Bike share group shifts into high gear

It’s a tradition that technically dates back to 1965 in Amsterdam. But take a look around UVM’s campus, and it isn’t hard to see that bike share culture is alive and well in Burlington in the year 2013, and students can thank UVM’s Bike Users Group (BUG) for its continued growth.

Its website describes the club as geared (no pun intended) toward “spreading the good word of bicycles” in the form of a campus wide bike share program and a brand new iteration of their old pop-up bike repair shop formerly known as the The Hive: Bicycle Education Center.

“When this club started [in 2006], it was a bunch of dudes,” Heng said. “Just a guy and his friends. Interestingly, now it’s mostly female.”

On a Monday evening, BUG’s four principal members- all girls- meet to discuss new projects and plans for the club. Exact membership is difficult to pin down, senior Lex Smith said. 

One of the club’s main strengths, its leaders said, is the fact that more than anything else it is a community resource. “We’re open to students, faculty and staff, and we’re free for 24 hours,” Smith added.  

For bike users, the process is simple. Students can fill out a waiver at the first floor Davis Center information desk to rent and bikes are available at three different hubs in the Davis Center, McCauley, and Simpson residence hall.

While BUG first began in 2006 as the Yellow Bike Project founded by current Thread magazine editor and former UVM student Ben Sarle, the club today is firmly established as one of 90 campus bike share programs in the U.S., according to estimates from a bike share presentation in 2011 by former BUG leader Jess Simpson. 

BUG’s mission today is to show that using a bike doesn’t just make good economic or environmental sense. It can be socially empowering as well, Smith said. 

“Riding a bike doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. It’s something everyone can participate in,” she said. 

Past events held in the spirit of bicycles have included selling recycled bike jewelry and BUG smoothies. These smoothies were made in a blender on the rear of a bicycle, powered by the energy of a BUG member.

There is an upcoming group ride to Pie Fest at Shelburne Orchard on September 29. Additionally every year the group has a fundraising event with past venues including Maglianero’s.

To get involved, weekly BUG meetings are Wednesday, 6:00 p.m. at Brennan’s.