Saturday, September 17, 2005

Yellow Bikes

Nicole Sack reports in The Southern Illinoisan:
"As if bicycles painted yellow aren't distinguishable enough, the Saluki Cycles program took the extra step to give their herd of 10 each a name.

The new program was initiated by the Student Environmental Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is co-sponsored by the Southern Illinois Center for a Sustainable Future, the Bike Surgeon and the SIUC Recreation Center.

The purpose of Saluki Cycles is multi-faceted. It promotes alternative transportation, healthy and active lifestyles and environmental awareness. By biking instead of driving, people get good exercise, save money and reduce fossil fuel emissions, said Kris Schachel director of SICSF.

Students and staff at SIUC can check out the bikes - sort of like they check out a library book.

Organizers are hoping the program catches on and they can add to their fleet. Their goals are mostly practical.

'There is commitment to placing more emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle traffic and less vehicular use in the University's land use plan,' SRC Director Bill McMinn said.

Saluki Cycles has rolled out the fleet of 10 yellow, single speed cruisers that are available for up to two days at a time. They come with helmets, locks and the proper safety accessories such as lights and reflectors.

The program has the support of Carbondale City Councilwoman Sheila Simon, who is an avid cyclist herself.

'Carbondale is mostly flat, making biking easy,' Simon said. 'We also enjoy a climate that allows almost year-round biking. In addition, the community is receptive to increased biking. For example, the city is currently asking for federal funding for more bike path miles.'

Ryan Campbell, a senior in plant biology, received a Campus Ecology fellowship from the National Wildlife Federation, which provided initial funding. Contributions from local individuals made it possible to purchase the bikes and accessories, he said.

The Bike Surgeon co-owners Will Scherschel and Jon Greenstreet were strong and enthusiastic supporters throughout the process as they donated their normal markup to the project and worked with their distributor to get the cruisers at below cost. Their technicians helped assemble and store the bikes before their transfer to the Recreation Center."