SOS builds bicycle rental program

Volunteers from Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS) have begun overhauling Tech’s stock of abandoned bicycles. Left locked to campus bike stands after the end of a semester, these bikes will now be put to use by the SOS to start up a new rental program.

The program will rent bikes through Outdoor Recreation at Georgia Tech (ORGT), offering students the benefits of bikes without making them purchase their own.

“A lot of [the program] is going to have to do with introducing people who would not normally use [a bike]…to biking,” said Carly Queen, president of SOS.

Initially, SOS will build 35 bikes and hopefully begin operations in March.

SOS realized its goal of creating the program after the SGA approved funds for replacement bike parts. In meetings with SGA, SOS representatives overcame student concerns about demand, liability and safety.

Many campus departments have made significant contributions to help with setting up the program. SOS secured 70 abandoned bicycles, worth about $10,000, from the Department of Housing. Previously, Housing donated abandoned bikes to Goodwill. “We are not in the business of collecting bikes for profit,” said Fran Gillis, director of Facilities Management.

The Office of Parking and Transportation provided SOS with storage space in the CRC parking deck. The CRC added razor wire to the storage cage installed by Parking, and ORGT supplied a cabinet to organize and protect supplies.

SOS received $1,600 from Auxiliary Service BuzzFunds, as well as support from the Office of Environmental Stewardship and the Atlanta Bicycle campaign.

SOS has seen significant student response, and over 30 volunteers have helped to refurbish bikes so far. “I’ve been taking the bikes apart, sanding them and painting a few,” said Ben Vannah, a fourth-year ME major.

In addition to support from student volunteers, campus departments have shown interest in the program. Georgia Tech Research Institute currently plans to rent five bikes, which will be used to test a bike-share program for research staff.

ORGT has begun working with SOS to determine financially sustainable rental rates.

“There will be fees…so we can just keep up with maintenance costs and any other program costs, but without emptying students’ pockets,” Queen said.