A plexiglas arch protects them from the elements, and a few purple stickers mark them, but it would be easy to walk past the row of 10 silver bicycles beside James Dormitory without realizing how special they are.
There’s certainly nothing to declare them the culmination of student-led efforts and research, or to note that they’re part of a campus trend toward sustainability in ways both small and large (a new $2 million Green Revolving Fund— see page 13—is the most recent example).
Nor is there a sign to tell passersby how the bikes are among ongoing gestures to make the College more open, diverse and community-centered.
They may not look it, but as any one of some 200 student members of the Amherst College Bike Share could tell you, these are special bikes.
The Office of Environmental Sustainability helped interested students navigate legal liability and other hurdles. Funding from the Association of Amherst Students purchased bikes, racks and shelters from Laughing Dog Bicycles in Amherst. To keep costs low, student volunteers serve as bike share managers and mechanics. Membership is free, although students are responsible if they damage or fail to return the bikes.
The row of new bikes addresses a “very real need on campus for an easy-to-use and environmentally conscious transportation system that all students could access,” says Alisa Bajramovic ’18, who helped launch the project. “Whether a student would want to use it to get to class, to go to a store or to just enjoy a nice autumn day, we did not want cost to be a barrier.”