University biking program to promote health of environment as well as students
The Bonner Scholars Program and Student Government Association (SGA) will launch the Stetson Green Bikes program on Thursday, Jan. 31, in conjunction with the nationwide Focus the Nation educational initiative on global warming solutions for America.
Students at the university will be able to borrow bicycles in the same way they borrow books from a library. The SGA office will function as the checkout desk. A student who checks out a bike will receive a key to a specific bicycle and will have unlimited use of the bike for one week. The bike then must be returned, but can be checked out again by the same person.
The SGA hopes that by using bicycles instead of cars for errands around campus and the community, even for attending classes, Stetson students will save money, contribute in a positive way to climate change and have fun at the same time.
Kevin Winchell, Stetson coordinator of the Bonner Scholars Program and Community Outreach, helped lay the foundation for the program when, as a Stetson sophomore, Bonner student and member of the SGA, he wrote a bill to promote environmentalism on campus and included a bike program in a list of ideas.
Winchell researched and developed the bike program idea in his junior year as an honors course project, mentored by Stetson professor Paul Croce. The project grew into a collaborative effort involving SGA, Bonner students and Croce, professor of American Studies and a member of Stetson’s Environmental Responsibility Council.
The campus bike program relies on donated bicycles that are repaired, painted, labeled and registered with both Stetson University and the DeLand Police Department before being made available for loan.
Green Bikes also will include an educational component to raise awareness about environmentalism and safe biking. Winchell said long-term goals include packaging the program as a model for other universities and also branching out into a community bike program for the greater DeLand area. “There are lots of kids who don’t have a chance to get around,” Winchell said. “We’re hoping this will take off.”
Founded in 1883, Stetson University is a private, liberal arts university in Central Florida. The university system also includes the Stetson University Center at Celebration and two Stetson University College of Law campuses in Tampa Bay.