New program to provide bike rentals

Story by Sara Nemec

There are close to 600 registered bikes on campus, according to the housing and residence life Think Tank. Soon students who do not own bikes will be able to ride, thanks to a new program sponsored by the Environmental Adventure Center.

Students and faculty at UW-Eau Claire will be able to rent bicycles through the EAC located on upper campus. The new program, which features 15 brand-new Trek mountain bikes, officially kicks off May 24.

“It’s been a sleeping giant here for a long time,” said Daniel Langlois, assistant director of the EAC, while describing the initial idea for the center’s newest addition to its rental equipment.

Langlois said there has always been talk on campus of a transition to a more bike-friendly campus community and said that now was the perfect time to introduce the new program.

He said the program was a collaborative brainchild of the workers at the EAC, citing the state bike trail going through campus, the lower Chippewa River corridor near the university and the improved network of bike trails in the Eau Claire as the catalyst for the program.

Langlois also said he hoped the bikes would be used by campus groups such as classes, resident assistants and student organizations.

“We hope to be a big resource for student organizations who want to do a group ride,” he said.

The EAC is working on a trailer to transport up to 20 bikes to make group outings possible, he said.

The fifth-annual Aldo Leopold Banquet in February funded the program. The banquet, whose theme was sustainability and biking included silent and live auctions with the proceeds going toward the new bikes.

Renting equipment, such as the new bikes, from the EAC is simple, said wilderness guide junior Amy Brickheimer. She said the easiest way to check out materials is to visit the EAC, located in the Hilltop Center, in person. Items may be checked out using cash, credit cards or Blugold cards.

Langlois said that there will be a daily, weekend and week rate to rent a bike, though the precise dollar amounts for equipment rental is still being discussed. He said he wants to keep the prices reasonable to encourage students to use the equipment.

All equipment is available on a first-come, first-served basis to university ID holders. All equipment rental and reservations must be made in person and paid in full, according to the university recreation and sport facilities website.

“Here at the rental center we have a lot. We have canoes, kayaks and we really wanted to expand that to include the bikes so that students could enjoy…another aspect of the outdoors,” EAC wilderness guide junior Sam Lynch said.

The public relations major said he thought the new program will be a hit with members of the campus community wanting to enjoy their leisure time by staying active this summer.

“It’s just another outdoor activity to help enjoy the summer. You know, you don’t want to float every day,” he said.

For more information about equipment rental and services provided by the EAC call 836-3616 or stop by the center.