Vol. 4 No. 38 | Oct. 3, 2007


Yellow bikes help keep NAU fit, environmentally friendly

Pedways and sidewalks on campus are full of some bright new additions as the Yellow Bike program unleashed 45 used bicycles for free use by students, faculty and visitors alike.

Sam Lettes, senior classical guitar performance major, bike repair specialist and Center for Sustainable Evironments intern, said the bikes are meant to help reduce NAU's transportation emissions by providing a convenient and healthy substitute to cars.

"People are usually hesitant to change their lifestyle in terms of physical activity and environmental consciousness because often it's expensive," Lettes said. "But by giving them free bikes, they are much more receptive to the change."

In its introductory phase, riders will be asked to use the yellow bikes on campus only. This will be enforced by nothing more than the expectation of good manners, said Mike Madigan, project coordinator for the Center for Sustainable Environments, which initiated the program. Madigan realizes that the rate of loss on such bikes will be high at first.

"As these programs have advanced in other cities, they've gained a more sophisticated infrastructure where there are actually mechanisms in place to check bikes out, lock bikes up, card-swiping mechanisms, etc.," he said.

The Yellow Bike program is a product of last spring's climate mitigation class in which students researched ways to lower NAU's greenhouse gas emissions. The university took an interest and arranged to donate bikes to the program that have been abandoned on campus. The first batch of bikes was released Monday, and eventually NAU's collection of 140 unclaimed bikes will be cleaned, painted, repaired, tuned and added to the mobile fleet.

"We hope to saturate campus with yellow bikes so that after a while people realize the program is here to stay and that taking them off campus won't weaken the program," Lettes said.

Madigan believes the program will someday reach beyond NAU's borders.

"I think this program sets the stage for a more significant program in the future," Madigan said. "With the building of the conference center, there's going to be a need for increased transportation between the university and downtown, and it's my hope that this program sets the stage."

For information on the program, contact Mike Madigan at (928) 523-0664.

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