Kent State considers FlashFleet expansion


A FlashFleet bike outside the Rec Center on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.

Alex Tinline

As an initiative to help commuters on Kent State’s campus, Parking Services has teamed with Recreational Services to introduce a new way for students to make it to class on time.

This past summer, the C-Science parking lot located across from the Student Recreation and Wellness Center was expanded and converted into a spot-counting device lot. As an extra step to assist commuter students, a new FlashFleet station was also installed.

“I realize when people park, if they are going to take a bike, the bikes have to be convenient,” said Larry Emling, the Parking Services manager. “It has to be between you and where you are going and people tend to not want to go backwards to get something, even a bus. But if it’s in-between, then they might stop and get it and go.”

Parking Services and Recreational Services are looking to install more FlashFleet bikes into strategic locations on campus. These locations would primarily be near C-lots as a means for commuters to get across campus quickly.

FlashFleet, which was first introduced to the Kent campus in 2010, was rebooted in 2015, including the addition of new locations such as the PARTA stop in downtown Kent, the Student Center and a number of dorms on campus. The reboot also came with new technology, which allows smartphone users to access FlashFleet through its device.

“I use to use it daily, but now I stopped,” said Kody Elsayed, a sophomore public relations major. “It’s become a major hassle with multiple glitches and inaccurate charges to my account. Reaching out to customer service was easy, and every claim was resolved.”

In the past month, FlashFleet has had around 800 bike rentals. The most popular rental periods for the service include the month of September and late spring. The service takes a brief closure during the winter months between December and early March.

FlashFleet is currently under a three-year contract with the public bike-sharing, German based company, nextbike. The service, which is spearheaded under the Department of Recreational Services, is funded through a number of partners on and off campus. They include: the Division of Student Affairs, the city of Kent, PARTA, Undergraduate Student Government and some assistance from Parking Services.

“We are tied to the support of our partners,” said Chris John, the assistant director of Recreational Services and Administrator for FlashFleet. “We are very thankful for the support of our partners, so we are looking to extend the contract, but only if our partners agree to the terms as well.”

The contract, which is set to end in August 2018, is still being discussed before a vote occurs on the renewal of the service, said USG President, Daniel Oswald.

“This program has been growing and I think the awareness across campus might not be growing as much,” said Steven Langdon, the Recreational Services marketing coordinator. “Our goal is to push the awareness as we move into next year just so that the students can really show the value behind having a service like this.”

For more information about membership and FlashFleet locations, visit their website.

Alex Tinline is the parking and transportation reporter. Contact her at [email protected]