Marshall University is preparing to launch a new bike sharing program for students, called Rolling Thunder Bike Share. The first few bikes have arrived on campus, but starting Oct. 19, students will have access to 30 GPS-enabled bikes to ride around campus and Huntington.
“I think it’s a really good idea,” said Caleigh Parlier, freshman student at Marshall. “I hate walking around on campus. It takes a minute to get from the parking place all the way to class.”
Students will initially sign up through an app, using their Marshall student ID. Then, they can enter a passcode into one of the solar-powered monitors on the bikes to unlock it and take it for a ride.
“They can get on their bike and ride for two hours,” said Amy Parsons-White, Sustainability Coordinator for Marshall University. “They can put it on hold, as long as it doesn’t exceed an hour, and ride. Then they return it to another hub, free of charge.”
Returning the bike is key. Similar programs have caused issues in other college towns, where students deserted the bikes on sidewalks or undesignated areas. For that reason, Parsons-White says Marshall went with a hub-based program, that will charge students $25 if they don’t return the bike to a designated hub.
Marshall believes bike sharing is perfect for the area and can help with a lack of parking.
“Parking is an issue in Huntington,” said Parsons-White. “The more people on bikes, the less parking issues we’re going to have. It really frees up a lot of space.”
With three hubs currently throughout campus and one hub coming to Pullman Square, some students say it could mean spending less money.
“It’ll definitely save people a lot of money,” said Marshall sophomore Adam Ankrom. “I know a lot of people have to pay for parking, especially if you go to Pullman. Being able to rent a bike instead of paying for parking would be a lot easier.”
If everything goes well, it could eventually spread beyond just Marshall students.
“We would love to see it expand city-wide, but that’s probably going to be awhile down the road,” said Parsons-White. “It is the ultimate goal though.”
Marshall plans to roll out the full fleet of bikes with a launch party at the fountain on Oct. 19, followed by a community bike ride.