Recreational Services adds new technology to Flashfleet bikes

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10/6/16 Flashfleet

Nicole Zahn

Now on its third-generation of Flashfleet bikes, Kent State’s Department of Recreational Services has advanced the technology of bikes over the past year for a more convenient experience.

Kent State introduced Flashfleet in 2010, a method for students without on-campus bikes to ride bicycles.

Beginning in 2015, the Recreational Services collaborated with the Division of Student Affairs, the Undergraduate Student Government, the City of Kent and PARTA to bring the next generation of bikes to campus and the community.

“Each bike has a computer that allows the facilitation of checking in and checking out bikes,” said Chris John, assistant director of outdoor adventure. “There is also a cellular connection to the bikes.”

All bikes have a computer battery generator to power the battery while riding, an integrated bike lock on the front wheel, lights, a cellular module to connect to the network and a GPS unit to update the network.

The third-generation of the bikes allow students to check out a bicycle via the bike’s computer or through a mobile app. The second-generation used a basic key and lock, and required attendants to check out the bikes.

Nextbike is the mobile app that allows students to register an account and keep track of how many bikes are at each bike kiosk across campus. It is also the vendor from which Recreational Services leases the bikes.

“I wasn’t able to bring my bike here to school because I live so far,” said Casey Faddoul, a sophomore entrepreneurship major. “I was very happy that the Rec Center provides a biking service, especially when you can take the bike anywhere.”

Flashfleet bikes have kiosks located at the Student Center, the Rec Center, Eastway Center, Van Campen Hall, Tri-Towers, Terrace Hall, Stopher-Johnson and PARTA.

To keep track of the bikes, the SRWC “performs maintenance out in the field daily, inspections weekly and are able to track bikes via GPS location,” John said.

“I love riding bikes through trails every chance I get,” said Austin Casper, a junior exercise science major. “I’m usually very busy with my studies, but with the mobile app and being able to take the bike anywhere, (it’s) very convenient and easy.”

For $2 per hour, bike users can pay as they go, or sign up for a yearly membership. Members are able to check out bikes multiple times per day, for up to three hours a day for free.

Flashfleet and the mobile app are available to students, faculty and staff, and members of the Kent community.

Nicole Zahn is the Recreation and Wellness reporter, contact her at [email protected]