This semester Duke's bike lanes are a bit more crowded.
August 21 marked the kick-off of Duke Bikes, a pilot bike-loan program organized by students and several campus departments. From the new Outpost adventure gear station located under the West Campus Plaza, Duke Bikes lends one- and three-speed Trek Cruisers to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students free of charge. The bikes, painted blue, come equipped with locks, lights, and flashers. Helmets are available, too.
Like library books, the bikes may be checked out with a swipe of the DukeCard; they're due back in five days. Program organizers say they hope the initiative will encourage both a healthy lifestyle and an alternative, more environmentally sustainable, form of transportation.
So far, the bikes have been a big hit with students. Less than two weeks into the school year, all 130 bikes had been checked out, and the Office of Student Activities and Facilities, which staffs the Outpost, had to start a waiting list for interested students. By mid-September, however, demand had evened out, and bikes were moving in and out smoothly with no waiting time, according to Watts Mangum, who works in the outpost.
In addition to bikes, the Outpost rents camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, cook-gear sets, and first-aid kits. As with the bikes, demand for those items has been high, Mangum says. The Outpost's tents are regularly reserved a few weekends in advance, and one student even came in to inquire about borrowing a compass.
November 30, 2007