Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU launching bike sharing program

Chancellor Robert Coombe and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper commended University of Denver students May 18, recognizing the students’ commitment to sustainability as the University launched a new bike library program.

The pilot program, which establishes a pool of 20 bicycles that can be borrowed free of charge on campus this fall, will eventually roll into a citywide bike sharing program. The city initiative will include about 600 bikes and scores of pick-up and drop-off kiosks around Denver. DU will host two of those kiosks when the city program starts next spring.

In the meantime, it will be up to DU to test the program.

Hickenlooper, speaking on campus to nearly 100 students, faculty and staff, said he was especially impressed by the dedication of seniors Mary Jean O’Malley and Zoee Turrill. The two partnered with the city, then worked with campus supporters to raise $50,000 to help bring the city bike share program to DU. Academic departments, student and campus organizations all donated.

When the city announced it was mulling a bike sharing program, Hickenlooper said, DU was there, ready to sign up.

“You don’t have great cities without great universities,” he said. “DU was the first institution  that stepped up right away and said, ‘How can we be a part of this? It’s a perfect match with our core values and principles.’”

Hickenlooper extolled the virtues of bike riding, from cleaner air to healthier lifestyles. He said the city is pushing hard to create more bike lanes and to expand the city bike sharing program, expected to launch in the spring.

Coombe thanked the students for their involvement from the start and for finding new ways for DU to become more environmentally friendly.

“It is really wonderful to see the campus community driving this effort forward with such vigor,” he said. “We have an obligation as an institution to act in a responsible way with the land and the air and the environment as a whole … We intend to keep up our part of the bargain.”

Hickenlooper also thanked Coombe for his willingness to support new projects.

“You are more fortunate than you can ever imagine to have someone like that at the helm,” Hickenlooper told the assembled crowd.

Coombe in 2007 signed the College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. With that, he formed the campus Sustainability Council, comprised of faculty, staff and students who are crafting a plan to make DU carbon neutral. Off to a fast start, the council has been part of recycling and composting initiatives, power-saving programs and the bicycle library.

Hickenlooper closed the event with a surprise by reading an official city proclamation. Recognizing the efforts of the students who helped join the University of Denver and the City of Denver in bike sharing, May 18, 2009, will forever be known in the city of Denver as “Mary Jean O’Malley and Zoee Turrill Day.”

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