VSA launches new bike initiative

Image courtesy of Jade Hsin ’25.

Dozens of bike racks were installed around campus. The racks remain empty and students are locking their personal bikes on the new racks. There are plans for the racks—they are part of a campus-wide transportation system called VCycle. The Vassar Student Association (VSA) program promises to give students access to free bike transport on campus in the near future. 

According to Max Bergman ’24, VSA Director of Services, the decision to launch VCycle was made last year by the previous Director of Services due to a surplus in the executive discretionary fund. Bergman explained that the program was made possible because of a company called On Bike Share, who has worked with many other college campuses such as Colby and WPI. Vassar purchased the VCycle infrastructure from On Bike Share, with the company offering support for any issues that may arise. VSA President Olivia Gross ’24 reported the total cost of VCycle to be around $39,000. 

“The idea was to have a safe, universal transportation system that would be free for students,” Bergman explained. Biking is beneficial for many reasons, but mainly because it is more environmentally friendly than car transport and it is quicker than walking. Many people have already caught on to the benefits of biking—so many that the campus seems to already be overflowing with bikes. 

According to Bergman, most of those excess bikes remain on campus due to the services provided by the Vassar Bike Shop. “Because of all the bikes on campus, they get a lot of traffic and it is very difficult for them to service every bike. On top of that, there are a lot of bikes that people leave on campus over breaks or when they graduate, and those bikes are not very functional,” Bergman added. “VCycle will put less stress on the bike shop because they won’t need to service as many bikes,” he explained. Additionally, Bergman shared, VCycle will work in collaboration with the bike shop. “The bike shop has agreed to help service the bikes as needed, and there should be a feature on the app when the bikes are launched that allows you to report any issue with the bikes or bike locks. That information can be relayed over to the mechanics in the shop, who will help service bikes,” he said. The VSA hopes to negotiate with bike shop workers to be paid for any additional work, according to Gross.

 The bike shop expressed excitement to take on the challenge of a new system. Pranav Parekh ’25, a Vassar bike shop mechanic, is happy to hear that the College is spending money on bikes. “I think a bike share program will hopefully do a lot to get folks riding around campus.” He continued, “But I think that the amount of money spent on bringing the new VCycle bikes to Vassar could also have been spent on helping to repair some of the hundreds of bikes we already have laying unridden throughout campus and in the security building.” The VSA, according to Bergman, hopes to remove some of the excess bikes that Parekh referred to once VCycle is up and running.

“I’m really excited to use VCycle,” Gross said. According to the Annual Comprehensive Survey results from the summer, 70.7 percent of survey participants have not owned a bike on campus and 88.8 percent are satisfied with the locations of our new VCycle bike racks. Many students may be wondering when these bikes will arrive. 

Bergman also gave short step-by-step instructions for how the bikes will operate. “There’s going to be an app, and you can sign up through the app with your Vassar email. You’ll automatically be put into the system. Whenever you want to bike you can just open it, and go near a rack that has bikes in it. It will connect via Bluetooth and you can select which bike to take out,” he explained. 

“We began working with the college over the summer to get everything installed,” Bergman said. “Just putting in the actual racks has been taking a little longer than we would have hoped.” Bergman explained that the rain in the past few weeks delayed rack installations. “The hope is that when we get back from break the racks will be in so we can launch the program,” he added. 

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