Blue Bike Program, Chapel Hill, NC

NC85’s Leadership team partnered with SURGE (Students United for Responsible Global Environment) and the Recyclery of Chapel Hill to kick off a “bike loan” system where people can borrow a bike for a day of tooling around the area, car-free! The project included a membership drive, fundraiser, and bike collection and painting day. August 2006.

August 27, 2006
BY EMILY COAKLEY, The Herald-Sun

Volunteers spent Sunday painting bikes blue for a new loan program designed to encourage bicycling.  The Blue Urban Bikes will help introduce people to biking around town, said Chris Richmond of the Recyclery, one of the groups involved.

For $10 a year, Blue Urban Bike members can borrow a bicycle for up to 24 hours from different spots around Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  On Sunday, the volunteers took bicycles donated to the Recyclery apart, covered some pieces with masking tape, and then sanded them. After that, the bike frames were suspended from a rack and painted Carolina blue.

Jon Parker of Carrboro brought his wife’s old mountain bike to the event, which was held in the WCOM parking lot downtown.
“I’ve been meaning to bring that bike to these guys,” Parker said. He saw the event advertised and decided to stop by.
The bicycle was a good one, Parker said, and with some attention, it could be useful for someone else.

Organizers are starting with 30 bikes, said Alison Carpenter of Students United for a Responsible Global Environment. After that, the goal is to grow the program by 20 bikes each year, Richmond said.

Richmond said that organizers were still working on where the hubs would be, but one location has been set: Skylight Exchange and Bookstore on West Rosemary Street. Employees at the hubs, such as Skylight, will be trained in doing quick bike inspections as they are checked in and out.

Blue Bikes will be equipped with racks and baskets, and helmets will be available, Richmond said.  Dave Love, who also works with the Recyclery, said the bikes rebuilt for the program have many features to help riders, such as five speeds to navigate hills.  “They’re super, super practical,” Love said.

Love, who takes the bus to work, plans to use the bikes on days when the bus bike rack is full. He also plans to use them when friends come to town. “The best way to see town is by bike,” Love said. The goal is to have 100 people join Blue Urban Bike in the first year, Carpenter said. By 2 p.m. Sunday, 13 people had become members.

Richard Rudin of Carrboro filled out a membership application.
“I ride a bike and it seems like a good thing to support,” Rudin said. “Any cars you could take off the road would help.”
Sunday’s kickoff event was hosted by SURGE (a UNC student environmental group), the Recyclery and the WorldLegacy.

Blue Urban Bike is one effort the Recyclery is making to get more involved in the community, Richmond said. Others include a mobile repair day to help kids in the South Estes neighborhood fix their bikes.  Since the Recyclery started in 2000, nearly 600 bikes have been fixed up and given away, Richmond said.

Reprinted from The Herald-Sun, (Durham, NC) COPYRIGHT 2006 by The Durham Herald Company. All rights reserved.

Plan also offers exercise and saves wear on cars PATRICK WINN, Staff Writer September 12, 2006 CHAPEL HILL – Public transportation is supposed to be cheap. Now, in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, it can be good exercise, too. On Monday, 30 used mountain bikes were reborn as community-owned loaners. They’re the “Blue Urban Bikes” fleet, tuned up and painted an unmistakable Carolina blue. For a $10 annual membership fee, riders can borrow one and roll out for as long as 24 hours. “For people used to driving everywhere, this is an easy, cheap introduction to public transportation,” said Chris Richmond of the ReCYCLEry, an amateur mechanics collective that will maintain the fleet. The ReCYCLEry runs the bike-loan project with the Carrboro-based environmental group SURGE, which stands for Students United for a Responsible Global Environment. Similar initiatives have cropped up in other college towns, such as Davidson, home of Davidson College, Austin, Texas, and near Emory University in Atlanta. So far, two racks hold the bikes. One is in The Courtyard by the 3 Cups coffee shop at 431 W. Franklin St. The other is in front of the Skylight Exchange cafe at 405 1/2 W. Rosemary St., several blocks away. Members of the bike-loan program will present something akin to a library card to borrow bikes from clerks at 3 Cups or Skylight Exchange. Each bike comes with a lock and a rack in back to hold book bags or baskets. Helmets are not provided. The project is expected to grow by 20 bikes each year. More hubs — one in Carrboro and one on East Franklin Street — are already in the works, said Alison Carpenter with SURGE. Though negotiations haven’t started, Carpenter also said SURGE and the ReCYCLEry will push for a location on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus. Terri Swanson, one of 25 people who signed up in advance, knows that’s a place best traversed on two wheels. “When I drive, it’s almost impossible to find parking there,” said Swanson, who runs a landscaping company with her husband. Through their business, the couple have a contract with the university and frequently have to make forays into campus from their office on West Franklin Street. Swanson would much rather zoom straight to a bike rack than hunt for an empty parking space. “It’s good exercise and saves wear and tear on our car,” Swanson said. “I think it’s a great idea. Reprinted with Permission of The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina.