Nestled in the hills of rural New York rests Alfred State College (ASC). While the hilly campus landscape provides students and faculty scenic views, the elevated terrain creates a stimulating hike to classes.
ASC Campus Recreation saw this chance to assist the students by creating an electric bike loaner station in the Student Leadership Center. Brooke Scianna, the coordinator of Campus Recreation, said the e-bikes were first available for use at the start of this fall semester.
“We were exploring ways in which the college could support the well-being of our students, especially post-pandemic, by focusing on getting them outside and incorporating fitness,” said Scianna. “With our hills on campus, riding a bike for some is quite challenging, so e-bikes provide the little bit of extra help to make riding up hills fun and healthy.”
While the e-bikes are stored at the Student Leadership Center, students are provided with a lock so they can secure their bike on any of the racks on campus. Before usage, students are asked to fill out the e-bike rental form under the ASC’s Recreation page 24 hours before their requested rental date and time.
“This allows for me to approve rentals and make sure staff is available when it comes time for bike pick up,” said Scianna. “For weekend rentals, we ask that students have their forms in by Fridays at 3:30 p.m. so they can be approved prior to the end of the business day.”
Students will then receive an approved or denied email based on the information they provide in their rental form. In the case of inclement weather, Scianna denies requests and honors them the next day pending the weather. Students are also allowed to take the bikes a limited distance off campus.
Bikes are available on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Students must have their school ID to verify who is picking up a bike. Then they sign a waiver. Prior to leaving, a pre-inspection for damages to the bike must be completed with a staff member.
“This allows us to track damages and ensure the student isn’t going to be charged for something they didn’t do,” said Scianna. “Each student is provided with a helmet and gets a bike training prior to their first ride where we explain the assist portion of the bike, the throttle, the portion where the bike folds in half, the lights and much more.”
Each e-bike can only be rented for a two-hour period until the first snowfall of the season. Upon return, a staff member and the student will do a post damage check. Students are then free to go, and the bikes are charged for the next person.
Funding and Impact
Scianna said the school purchased 10 Aventon Sinch Fat-Tire Foldable E-Bikes using funding made available by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund as authorized by the American Rescue Plan. She said the funding was designed to specifically address the mental health and well-being of students.
“The students have been very excited about the bikes and some even request to use them every day,” said Scianna. “As the bikes are seen being used by students, more tend to stop by the Campus Recreation office to ask questions.”
She added one of the main benefits of the program is students now have another option for fitness and social well-being by being active outdoors both alone or with friends. Also, she said not every student has access to bring a bicycle on campus, but they can now utilize the e-bikes.
For other schools who might consider starting a similar initiative, Scianna advised to first develop a comprehensive plan that consists of student use, rental times, training, waivers, legal advice and crisis management.
“You want to protect the investment and ensure the students are enjoying their time, so by developing a comprehensive plan it will make it worthwhile for everyone,” said Scianna.