FlashFleet offers free campus bike rides for Kent students

Charleton Uveges

Since FlashFleet, Kent State’s free bike rental service, started in Fall 2010, the program has grown to provide almost 10,000 rentals a year.

FlashFleet allows free bike rentals from March through November for any current student with a valid FlashCard. The Trek 7000 hybrid bikes come with cable locks and are available at seven rental locations across campus: four residence hall desks — located in Stopher Hall, Dunbar Hall, Tri-Towers and Twin Towers — as well as three non-residence locations at the Ice Arena, Student Center and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

“From the time we rolled out the bikes in March [2012] until we rolled them in Thanksgiving week, we had 9,600 checkouts,” said David Herpy, outdoor adventure coordinator for Recreational Services. For a program fewer than three years old, 1,200 rentals per month show how fast FlashFleet’s popularity has grown.

Jeremy Quay, sophomore exploratory major, said that he admires Kent State’s unique service.

“I don’t think every university has free bikes for any student who wants to use one, so it’s really cool that Kent offers them,” Quay said.

Though there is no rental charge for renting, all bikes, locks and keys are due back to the checkout location by 9:30 p.m. on the day it is checked out, or students will have to deal with late fees.

“If it’s not returned, there is a fine of $20 per day,” Herpy said. The charges will accumulate “even if you end up paying the full price of the bike.”

One of the newest additions to the FlashFleet program is the bike “Fix-It” station located between the Student Center and KIVA buildings. The station is free to use “for any cyclist, not just Kent students or FlashFleet users,” Herpy said. “It has screwdrivers, Allen wrenches and a bike pump free of charge.”

Copies of the campus bike map are available at FlashFleet locations and include bike-friendly routes and sidewalks, buildings, road names and bike racks, Herpy said. Included with the map is also a brochure “containing an ABC bike check, bike safety and rules of the road.”

Tony Corbo, freshman exploratory major, said he was excited when he heard about the service.

“A free bike is a free bike,” Corbo said. “Why would I want to walk all the time? I need a little change-up every so often.”

In the future, FlashFleet has plans for enhancing the program, Herpy said.

“We’re looking at a third-generation pilot program with an electronic docking station and futuristic bike rack at the Student Center and the [Kent Central Gateway],” Herpy said.

This would mean not having to worry about returning the bikes to the checkout location. Instead students would be able to return the bikes to these new bike racks.

“By the end of this season, we hope to have a decision made,” Herpy said. “We’re still working on the funding.”

Meanwhile, FlashFleet continues to provide bikes to any and all Kent State students who feel like riding to class is more fun than walking.

Contact Charleton Uveges at [email protected].