MONMOUTH — Residents of Monmouth and Independence are probably used to seeing orange bikes scattered all over town by now. The bike sharing program began at Western Oregon University the first week of April and since then it’s been a hit.
“We are averaging 150 rides a day on a bike, so they’re definitely getting used,” Gary Dukes, vice president of student affairs at WOU, said.
When Spin, the dockless bike sharing program, approached WOU about coming onto campus, Dukes found the program beneficial for not just the student body but for the community as well.
“We brought them on as a demo to see about the program, and everything was positive and we moved on from there,” Dukes said. “We’re even seeing our community use them. And it’s a great way to get students out in the community and into community businesses. I think it’s a positive thing.”
Spin is based out of the Bay Area in San Francisco. Their mission is to provide low cost transportation for communities like Monmouth. To use a Spin bike, you download the Spin – Ride your way App on your phone and upload a debit or credit card to it. Cost options include $.50 per half hour, $1 per hour and $14 for a month. The bikes are solar powered and have a GPS track. Once a user’s session ends, the bike then become available for someone else to use.
The term ‘dockless’ means that the bikes don’t have to be brought back to a specific spot at the end of the day or use.
However, it is encouraged that the bikes come back to Western or The Bicycle Shop on Main Street.
“Western is where they should live,” Brendon Gallant, owner of The Bicycle Shop, said. “The idea is that they will be in the areas the community wants them in. Our job is to make sure that they end up back at those home bases.”
When Spin approached WOU, they also approached Gallant and his partner Graham Howard to see if they would be interested in helping to be the eyes and ears for Spin, such as doing bike maintenance and making sure the bikes are accounted for.
In some ways they also act as a liaison for the company.
“We are their eyes, ears, and hands and tell them what’s going on,” Gallant said. “We are the front line for the company, so what we’ve been telling the community is like anything and everything you have to say to Spin, channel through to us because it’s easier for us to communicate to them.”
When the program first rolled out, there were some doubts on how it would work. So far, it seems to be running smoothly.
“From our pulse on the community, and from our perspective and from Spin’s perspective, everyone’s happy with them; everyone’s using them at the rate that I think they were expected to,” Howard said. “The etiquette so far seems to be pretty good,” he added.
The program is even helping promote The Bicycle Shop
“There are more people in here asking about the orange bikes and bikes in general,” Howard said.
With every new program, though, there are growing pains.
“The one thing we have heard, because the concept and visual aspect of a dockless bike share program looks really foreign, is that the bikes look abandoned,” Gallant said.
It’s something the shop owners want to figure out.
“The biggest thing is just telling people, yes, they are involved with WOU, anybody can use them, no, they are not abandoned, and always feel free to call the shop,” Gallant said.
For more information on the Spin bikes, or to have a bike picked up, call The Bicycle Shop at 503-837-1837.