Naomi Albert hopped on a new Giant hybrid Escape 3 bicycle purchased for the University of Wisconsin-Stout StoutBikes program and took it for a spin.
“I’m impressed,” said Albert, a UW-Stevens Point senior majoring in natural resources planning who is in Menomonie for the summer as part of the LAKES REU program. “It’s really nice to be able to travel around the city over the eight weeks.”
LAKES, a federally funded research experience for undergraduates, aims to better understand the root causes of phosphorus pollution and solutions while offering undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in cutting edge research.
Twenty new bicycles were purchased through UW-Stout student Green Fees, including helmets, lights and locks, from Simple Sports in downtown Menomonie at a cost of $10,578. The Stout Student Association Sustainability Council proposed the purchase, which was then approved by the entire SSA. The bicycles will be available for rent by students.
This summer all the bikes are being rented by LAKES students and the Office of International Studies for international students. Bikes will be available in the fall semester to rent. Costs will be $50 per year, $30 per semester or $10 a weekend, if available. Rentals are offered through Stout Adventures. For more information on renting bikes, visit the Stout Sustainability website at www.uwstout.edu/life-stout/sustainability/transportation/bike.
Houston Taylor, Stout Adventures coordinator, said the new hybrid bicycles are a mix of road and mountain bikes. “They will be great for city riding,” he said. “We feel the semester rental will be the most popular. The program is designed to allow students who don’t have access to a bike because their home is far away, or they are international students or they don’t have a their own bike.”
As part of the rental, students can get a tuneup each semester from Simple Sports.
Helmets, lights and locks were included in the rental for safety. “We wanted to make sure we were encouraging safe practices,” Taylor said. “We wanted students to be able to see and be seen and to protect their heads.”
Previously, StoutBikes had refurbished bikes for rent at the University Police and Parking department, Taylor said, noting there had been many requests for a larger StoutBikes program.
“For me biking is an important part of my life, both as transportation and recreation,” Taylor said. “I think the barrier to entry to biking is all the equipment. We are able to offer everything for people to try it. We’re not trying to generate revenue. We’re trying to provide a service to allow Stout students to find a love for biking like some of us have.
“I am hoping they will take these out on the Red Cedar Trail or bike around the lake on a Saturday afternoon and get out and enjoy some of Menomonie that they may not have had a chance to appreciate yet,” Taylor added.
UW-Stout Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Rykal said it’s exciting to see the program refreshed.
“We’re hoping that these new bikes and safety gear will help students to gain a love for riding around a bike friendly campus and city,” Rykal said. “Encouraging zero carbon transportation, like bicycling, helps us in attaining our sustainability goals as a campus.”
UW-Stout is a Bike Friendly University. In 2016 the university earned the designation from the League of American Bicyclists. The organization recognizes universities that promote and provide a more bikeable campus for students, staff and visitors. UW-Stout also has bike parking and bike repair stations, which are equipped with the tools needed for a quick fix or tire inflation.
Zayyan Swaby, a LAKES student from Stony Brook University in New York who is a senior majoring in engineering science, was excited to pick up a bike for the summer. “I really love riding bike,” she said. “I’m excited to have it and to be able to go where I want to.”
Kirsten Ondris, a civil engineering senior from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City who is also part of LAKES, said being able to rent a bike is fantastic. “I think it will really come in handy in town and give us an opportunity to visit more of the area,” she added.
Houston Taylor, Stout Adventures coordinator, at right, explains the fit of a bike to LAKES REU student Kirsten Ondris, of Vernon, N.J.
LAKES REU student Zayyan Swaby, of Stony Brook University, New York, checks out the fit of a bicycle from StoutBikes