SGA presented a potential bike exchange program through Zagster BikeShare that would allow students to rent bikes temporarily to traverse campus more effectively.
Sophomore Class Representative Spencer Burton worked with the SGA Vice President of Finance Ryan Pfaff on an initiative that would pair UCA with Zagster – a company used on multiple college campuses that offers stations where students can pick up bikes from a bike station, move across campus and then drop the bike off at the next nearest station.
Burton and Pfaff were looking into the idea, it is still merely a projection and nothing has been implemented.
Burton outlined some of the goals of the potential program.
“Some of our goals for the bikeshare program is of course to promote bike culture, to be environmentally friendly and provide a way for students to move across campus — especially students who may not have a car. So that’s where the international student population is really affected,” Burton said.
Burton also said the placement of the bike docking stations were chosen strategically and placed in areas with high traffic.
“We’ve placed docks at the Farris HPER Center area, the Student Center and Donaghey Hall and then the Bear Village Apartments,” Burton said. “And those are strategic places where there’s a lot of student activities through traffic.”
Burton outlined two proposals from Zagster.
According to a Powerpoint Burton and Pfaff provided for their presentation, the first Zagster proposal provided four bike stations, over 40 bike docks and 25 bikes.
With each bike costing $1,800, the annual cost to the university would be $45,000 annually and $90,000
for the two-year contract.
“This cost kind of scared us, so we asked them for a second proposal,” Burton said.
According to the Powerpoint, the second proposal would provide three bike stations, around 40 bike docks and 20 bikes.
With the same cost per bike, the annual cost for the second proposal was estimated around $36,000 and the amount for a two-year contract was $72,000.
According to the Powerpoint, the ways UCA could afford the initial two-year program would include dipping into the SGA Reserves Account, allowing corporate sponsorships (or allowing companies to advertise on the bikes) or by sharing revenue with Conway Parks and the Recreational Department.
“At $72, 000 for two years we could very feasibly fund from either our reserve account or even pulling from projects and reserves,” Pfaff said. “And then we could take that time and essentially say, ‘alright, this is a project founded by UCA and now let’s work on getting those sponsorships to subsidize those costs.”
If the program were to be implemented, students could sign up for the program with a $20 per year membership
At that point, if there was enough interest among the students for the program, a one to two dollar increase to the student athletics fee might be implemented in order to incentivize students to participate in the program, as it would be paid for through tuition instead of the individual $20 annual fee.
However, this is all speculation.
In order to identify whether or not students would use this BikeShare system, Burton and Pfaff said they looked at the use of COPA bikes, a bike rental program currently utilized at UCA, to determine if Zagster’s bikeshare program would be necessary.
Director of Campus Recreation Richard Hammond said that, in his experience, the COPA bikes are used very often.
“COPA bikes are used very well,” Hammond said. “They’re usually checked out on a regular basis during the spring and fall semesters.”
Burton said that COPA bikes are used so often that there’s sometimes a need for more bikes.
“There’s a COPA bikeshare program already implemented; however those bikes are overused,” Burton said. “So
there’s sometimes a shortage of bikes.”