RIPON, Wis. (AP) — A tiny liberal arts college here hopes it has found an answer to a nagging shortage of campus parking: a bicycle giveaway.
If incoming freshmen promise not to bring a car to campus for a full year, Ripon College will give them a Trek 820 mountain bike, a helmet and a lock — a $400 value.
"We're a residential college with a beautiful, historic campus in the middle of a small town," said President David Joyce, an avid cyclist. "Paving it over was not an option I was willing to consider."
He hopes the 1,000-student campus' "Velorution Program" will protect it from building more parking lots.
"We obviously live in a car culture. That's not about to change," Joyce said. "But if a significant number of students learn that a car isn't a necessity at this stage of their lives, that's good enough for me."
Last fall, for the first time in Ripon College history, the number of parking permit applications exceeded the 400 permits available, Joyce said. The city approved a measure to close overnight street parking on every street through and adjacent to the campus.
The college, founded in 1851 and located about 70 miles northwest of Milwaukee, teamed with Fond du Lac/Oshkosh Cyclery, Trek and other companies to start the bicycle program.
Friends, trustees and alumni donated about $60,000 to buy 200 bicycles to give away to an expected 300 incoming freshmen, said Cody Pinkston, a spokesman for the school.
Historically, about 100 freshman arrive without cars, so accepting the bike will be a "no-brainer" for them, he said.
"There is not a strong bicycle culture here with students. That is what we are trying to engender."
Lemond 853; Merlin Cyrene; Bike Friday Pocket Rocket, Kona Jake the Snake Cross, Trek 8000 MTB
Originally Posted by Azndude51
That's kinda cool, unfortunately it would only work for for tiny universities like theirs. I don't think it would work as well as mine with 30,000+ undergraduates.
Great idea, but you're right.
I've been to Ripon college several times and have stayed in the dorms on bike tours through the area. Excluding the athletic fields, you can walk through campus in less than 5 minutes going in any direction. But actually, I think the idea is a better one for larger universities that are spread out over a non-contiguous area. Biggest problem in Wisconsin is the winter weather, especially like we've had this year - I know very few cyclists that have been able to get out riding during the last 2 months.
Does the school think the lock is going to really deter the inevitable? The theft is going to occur when the student rides the shiny new bike into town. If I were a student, I would ask for an option to apply the $400 towards any bike that I wanted to buy. Then get a practical beater bike to ride.
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia - passionfruit capital of the universe!
Originally Posted by Garfield Cat
Does the school think the lock is going to really deter the inevitable? The theft is going to occur when the student rides the shiny new bike into town.
Or worse, what will happen when when a whole heap of untrained, uneducated cyclists suddenly take the roads, not because of any desire to ride a bike, but simply because of a freebie? In the majority of cases, they'll end up having a "close call" with a car at some point, getting a flat tyre or getting all their textbooks wet in the rain. Then they'll be ditching the bike, and subsequently telling everyone they meet about how bad their cycling experience was.
"I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
"We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers. My blog. My bike tours. Japan tour page under construction.