PennCycle makes renting bikes on campus easier

Juniors Chris Cruz and Elizabeth Cutler, along with sophomores Alex Rattery, Madison Roberts, and Jenny Xia have joined together to form PennCycle, a program designed to make it easier for the Penn community to get around on bikes.

Cruz came up with the idea for PennCycle—a campus bicycle-rental program housed in Penn Student Agencies (PSA)—when he was a freshman living in Hill College House. As a bike rider, he saw that there were few places on campus to lock up bikes and receive bicycle maintenance, so he set out to make it easier to use, store, and share bikes on campus.

On Friday, March 16, from noon to 4 p.m. in the Bistro Room in Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce St., the organization will formally introduce itself to the Penn community. The kickoff will include PennCycle registration, free test rides, a student DJ, free food, coffee, and treats. 

The students who formed PennCycle have been working on the program since last May. Their idea was awarded a Green Fund grant by the Green Campus Partnership, which provided the capital to purchase and maintain bikes during the pilot program, which runs through the end of the academic semester.

PennCycle is open to all students, faculty, and staff with a PennCard. To sign up, individuals must register, pay a $10 membership fee, and read safety information. PennCycle provides bike locks and helmets, which must be worn while riding PennCycle bikes.

“This is to make sure that no one gets hurt because accidents do happen, especially when riding a bike in the city,” Roberts says. “We want to do everything that we can to make sure that our members are as safe as possible.”

Rentals are available seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Users can keep bikes overnight for an additional fee.

Xia says PennCycle offers a lot of freedom to its users, especially those who are short on time and constantly on the move. “As springtime approaches, biking is a great way to stay healthy and save money on travel,” she says.

Sarah Fisher, sustainability strategic planning associate at Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES), says the PennCycle project enables students to “create a sustainable lifestyle” by lowering the barriers for students to try urban biking.

PennCycle managers collaborated with PSA, the College Houses, FRES, the Office of Risk Management & Insurance, and the Division of Public Safety to launch the bike rental program.

To help make Penn more bike-friendly, the University’s Business Services Division has changed the locations of Penn Transit stops to enhance the safety of bicyclists traveling in the dedicated bike lanes, and has added additional bike corrals on campus and in Penn garages. Bike carriers have also been installed on all Penn Transit buses.

Roberts says they are hoping to have a large proportion of students, staff, and faculty make use of PennCycle.

“In the best outcome, we would expand to other locations in the fall of next academic year,” she says.