BikeUT Helps Students Cycle the City

Published: Nov 8, 2010
Tatyana Latorres ’14 has rented a bicycle from BikeUT nearly every weekend since the program started. She’s meandered down Bayshore Boulevard admiring the water views and stately homes. She’s toured the shops and cafes in Channelside. Most recently, she and friend Jacki Bishop ’14 rented bikes so they could go shopping to complete their Halloween costumes.

As freshmen with no car, the free bicycle rentals at BikeUT are a lifesaver.

“It’s kind of a pain getting around without a car,” said Bishop, a marketing major. “This makes it a lot easier.”

For Latorres, it helps her multitask.

“It allows students to work out in another way besides the gym,” she said. “I really like the program.”

Started in October, BikeUT allows students, faculty and staff the chance to rent one of 16 bicycles free of charge, conducted through the McNiff Fitness Center front desk. The Department of Campus Recreation manages the program and maintains the bikes with support from City Bike Tampa, a local bike shop. The program is also supported by Student Government.

When Sara Biron ’13 packed up her car to drive from her home in Maryland to UT, her bike wouldn’t fit. She was excited to hear of BikeUT and has rented a couple times to ride around town for exercise.

“I think it’s great because it’s free, and you can take them anywhere,” said Biron, a criminology major.

Biron first found out about the bikes because of her friend, Kealy McNeal. McNeal filled out a contest form for General Mills’ “Bikes for a Better U” sweepstakes, brought to the University through UT Dining Services, during a January UT event and won the grand prize of 16 new Cycle Force bicycles for the University plus one for herself. Her prize became the springboard for the BikeUT program.

“I was really excited when I found out I won the bikes for the school as I never win anything,” said McNeal ’13, an environmental science major. “And I really hope the students take advantage of this program.”

McNeal, who doesn’t consider herself a cyclist and just entered the contest on a whim, has been using her bike for exercise in her free time.

A valid UT Spartan ID is required upon rental, and all rentals are free of charge. Bikes may be rented on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, rentals can be made between 10 a.m.-noon and 4-6 p.m. On Saturdays bikes are available from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Sundays from 4-6 p.m. Bicycle rentals include a helmet and bike lock.

The BikeUT staff is promoting a Nov. 13 Urban Bicycle Safety event in the west lot of the St. Pete Times Forum from 10 a.m. to noon. Topics include urban riding and commuting, bicycle safety and cyclists’ legal rights and responsibilities. The day ends with a group ride through downtown. Helmets are required to join in the practice ride and participants are asked to bring their own bikes. Tampa BayCycle will be providing free lights and helmets while supplies last.

For information on BikeUT, visit www.ut.edu/bikeut.

 
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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