Need to get across Grounds in a hurry in the middle of the day? The University of Virginia’s new UBike program will soon provide an option.
The University’s Department of Parking & Transportation soon will offer bicycles for casual users – students, faculty and staff – through a new bike-sharing program called UBike. Members of UBike can use an account number or a coded membership card to unlock a bicycle from a special rack, ride it anywhere on Grounds or in the community, and return it to any UBike rack.
“This is for someone who wants to get from the Observatory Hill Dining Hall to Clark Hall quickly, or from the Architecture School to Medical School fast,” said Rebecca White, director of Parking & Transportation. “We hope this will encourage more bicycle ridership on Grounds and enhance midday mobility.”
White estimates that each bicycle will be used for five to six trips per day, with a maximum of 90 minutes per day of riding time for a single UBike member. She said there will be additional charges if the bicycle is locked off Grounds or kept beyond 90 minutes in a day.
The system is in beta testing right now. Once it goes live at the beginning of the Spring semester, bicycle users can sign up for UBike online or through a smartphone application, with daily, monthly, semester and annual memberships available at rates from $5 to $80.
During the beta test, 30 bicycles are being deployed for use by students from sustainability groups, with another 90 set to be put into the system following the Thanksgiving break. There will be 18 hubs around Grounds, with 240 slots for bicycles.
Riders are responsible for providing their own helmets, White said.
“These bike-share programs are becoming more and more common,” White said. “They have them is places such as Washington, D.C. and New York City. Some college campuses have them in different forms, such as a ‘bike library,’ where you can ‘check out’ a bike. We decided on this system because we want it to complement the existing transit system and enhance midday mobility options.”