Bike rental program receives $10,000 from Student Senate

Alek LaShomb, news editor

Student Senate approved a $10,000 allocation on March 2 for Winona State University’s rental bike program.
Senate’s allocation will be added to the Director of the Student Union and Activities, George Micalone’s, $3,500 contribution for 30 new three speed rental bikes.
The rental program currently only consists of one speed, one seat size bikes.
The university’s bike program dates back to 2009 and still retains the original fleet of rentals.
Micalone said that up until 2019, the rental bike program was managed and administered by the Warrior Hub before the Student Union took over in 2020.
The existing batch of bikes are coaster brake bikes, which is a type of bike that stops when a rider reverses the peddle motion, that were financially maintained by a small portion of the student life fee, Micalone said.
Micalone said that despite some funding for bike maintenance, there was “barely enough for a generic tune up and tire replacement.”
During the bike program’s initial rollout in 2009, there were 100 checkouts a day and 4,000 to 5,000 a year, Micalone said.
“With only 30 bikes in the inventory, that’s a lot of turnover,” Micalone said.
Despite historically high levels of bike rental activity, Sep. 2020 only had 200 bikes checked out in the month’s entirety.
Micalone said this was in part due to a lack of awareness surrounding bike rentals.
“It’s hard to promote a program that’s unreliable. At any point we could be down half of our inventory because they break and we don’t have anyone dedicated to fix them right away,” Micalone said. “Once you do something unreliable you don’t usually do it again. It was hard to promote a program that was unreliable, thus awareness was down.”
Malorie Olson is a second-year social studies education major minoring in political science and geography, and is the chair of student services on Student Senate.
Olson said Micalone came to her with the project idea, which led to the crafting of the Student Senate allocation to replace the bikes.
The new bikes will be purchased from a local business, Adventure Cycle and Ski, and will have both male and female seats.
Olson said the university’s bike program was successful to start but couldn’t sustain funding to replace the bikes, something she hopes changes with the help of future funding from Student Senate.
Olson said she hopes students will utilize the program to “go bike around by the lake and have more options to get around the community.”
While there is not a specific date for the new replacement bikes arrival, Micalone said he hopes students will have access to the new fleet by fall semester.
Students can rent the existing bikes starting late March from the Student Activities center in Kryzsko Commons from 9 a.m. to sunset, Monday through Friday and on the weekends from 10 a.m. to sunset.