FAIRBANKS — A bicycle loan program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has proven to be extremely popular, even though students have to wait in long lines to participate.
In the latest go round, film and theater student Tyler McClendon claimed the first spot in line at 8 a.m. Saturday, four hours before bikes were distributed.
The prize is a free bicycle offered on loan for the next six weeks by the UAF Office of Sustainability through its Green Bikes program, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
The program offers mountain bikes on a first-come, first-served basis.
The program was launched in spring 2011 with a $10,000 sustainability grant. Green Bikes has about 50 bicycles available, up from an initial fleet of 20.
“We’ve always had more people in line than bikes,” said Michelle Sutton, a coordinator of the program. “We’re always adding more to try to keep up.”
On Saturday, McClendon held a place in line for his girlfriend, sophomore theater student Sierra Trinchet.
Trinchet rides more than four miles onto campus from Gold Hill, and said her current clunker isn’t working out.
“Just being able to shift gears will make it a lot nicer,” she said. “And this has the word ‘green’ in it, so I’m good.”
The program aims to cut exhaust emissions on campus and make UAF more environmentally friendly.
It also offers winterized bikes — with studded tires, insulated hand covers and low-temperature gear grease — starting in mid-October.
UAF Recreation Director Mark Oldmixon said the program is among several factors behind growing bike traffic on campus in recent years. Improved winter technology and more bicycle-friendly roadways also have led more bike traffic, according to Oldmixon.
“I’ve been here seven years, and I’ve definitely seen an increase,” he said.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com