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First in a series of profiles of the Big Jump Project’s 10 focus areas. Central Austin seems to have everything: a massive research university, the world’s biggest annual media festival and one of the country’s strongest local job-creation engines. But when a city sees so much success, it runs …
Campus bike sharing in the United States seems to have hit a new high water mark on the flagship campus of the University of Texas.
Forty days after launching a free pilot program for UT students with 85 new bikes to serve them, Austin B-Cycle says it’s on track to more than double the ridership of its entire 530-bike system.
Austin Active Transportation Program Manager Laura Dierenfield said 7,800 students have registered for the program so far — 15 percent of the UT campus’s entire student body.
“We were hoping for, like, 3,000 for the life of the pilot in the first 18 months,” Dierenfield said. “We had twice that in the first week.”
Students aren’t just signing up for the free program, either. They’re biking. In the program’s first 40 days, the campus bike docks averaged 12 checkouts per bike per day.
For comparison’s sake, the average New York Citi Bike is ridden five to six times per day during the spring.
“It’s been increasing in general because the weather’s getting even nicer,” Austin B-Cycle Director Elliott McFadden said. “We have 11 campus-area stations, and they are the top 11 stations in our system now.”
UT’s rapid embrace of bike sharing already puts the campus in striking distance of ridership at maybe the nation’s most successful university-linked bike share system, at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. During that system’s season, its 100 bikes average 13 checkouts per day.
“We’re close to their kind of usage, and that took them about six months to get there,” McFadden said. (NDSU’s program is also free for students to join, paid for out of student services fees.)