Sustainable Student Ventures Proposal
December 10, 2001 2:12 AM
Of the over 3000 colleges and universities, and thousands of urban communities
in the United States, few have means of quick inter-community transportation.
Often destinations are perceived to be too far to conveniently walk. Some
community members make the choice to drive an automobile, and in some
cases, they avoid the trip all together. When community members use cars
for travel between buildings, they pollute the air, use nonrenewable natural
resources, avoid healthy exercise, and diminish the sense of community
by isolating themselves in their car.
We are developing a Community Bike and Scooter program that addresses
these issues, while avoiding the pitfalls of traditional community bike
programs which have historically hampered their success.
We intend to provide a viable, sustainable, and healthy method of inter-community
transportation. We will use Hampshire College as a model implementation,
which can then be implemented at other colleges and communities.
Using proven technologies, we are designing a community scooter and bike
program which uses a computerized vehicle check-out model in order to
provide individual accountability. This is the primary pitfall of other
attempts to implement community bike programs.
Our design has many benefits which we believe will strengthen its success:
- Individual accountability means theft and vehicle damage is diminished.
- By implementing racks in specific areas around a community, users
know where to find a scooter or bicycle. Users can depend on the system
as a viable transportation alternative.
- Using our specialized bicycles or scooters, in conjunction with locking
racks, vehicle maintenance time and costs will be deducted.
- All community members have equal and free access to the bicycle or
scooter. This reduces the need for community members to buy their own
We intend to first design a system which can be easily
implemented at any type of community such as a college campus or urban
setting. We hope to use a design which can easily be modified to authenticate
users with whatever is already common in each community. For example,
colleges typically already use a magnetic strip ID system. Other communities
may wish to use smart cards, or existing public transit cards.
- Over 3000 University and Colleges in the United States alone.
- Thousands of communities and business campuses worldwide.
Community bike programs have been around for over 40 years.
Most of the programs use a anarchic system where old bicycles are donated,
fixed up, and released into the community. This type of program is plagued
with aces which commonly leads to a failed program. Hampshire College
has had an anarchic community bike program since 1999.
Slightly more advanced programs have been developed where
bicycles are locked to racks around the community. Users must have a combination
or insert a coin deposit to unlock a bicycle. While this type of program
addresses a few of the common issues, it doesn't address individual accountability.
More recently a couple entities have tried to address
the primary issue of accountability by using a computerized check-out
system. Similar to our mission they intend the bike program to be a viable
alternative means of transportation. There are a few differences which
distinguish us from these entities.
Adshel Smart Bike Program
Adshel, an international advertising agency, works with city municipalities
to install various types of street furniture such as bus shelters. The
integral part of their agreement is that they get to use the furniture
to generate ad revenue. They have recently developed a computerized bike
program very similar to our project. They however will only implement
the system under the agreement that they can cover the bicycles and racks
with advertising. They do not offer the equipment for purchase separately.
In some communities, this is very unappealing.
Adshel, and every community bike program that we are aware of, uses bicycles.
While bicycles make sense in many communities, we believe scooters, or
a combination of scooters and bicycles will be a better choice in certain
instances. Scooters use a much simpler design which allows for dramatic
decrease in manufacturing and maintenance costs. The scooters also are
easier and safer to use, while providing a better fit to a wider range
The members working on the project have many years
of experience working with issues involved in the design, implementation,
and adoption of sustainable projects within a community.
Founder Hampshire Yellow Bike program.
Three years experience running the program.
In touch with issues around community transportation
Strong background in implementing appropriate technology in communities
Studying sustainability, information technology, and design.
Implemented what is already one of the most comprehensive web sites on
the web about community bike programs.
Professor and expert on issues of Sustainability
Leader of Hampshire Sustainable Campus Plan
Strong background in design and entrepreneurship
While we believe our system design addresses the major
issues which hamper the success of such projects, there issues which we
are aware of. We intend to address these issues while in the design phase.
We hope to resolve the other issues by implementing the program and then
revising relevant pieces.
- Bicycles and scooters are likely not usable or safe in snowy conditions.
- Computer check-out programs are expensive. However, equipment should
theoretically last longer.
- The community must be involved and feel ownership for such a project
to succeed. In an anarchic system, the sense of ownership is greater
when users donate their own bicycles or volunteer their time to fix
bicycles. Because of the complexity of a computerized check-out system,
certain aspects will require specialized knowledge which may limit community
involvement. While community involvement should remain a top priority,
a computerized check-out system is designed to be a true transportation
alternative. Anarchic systems on the other hand rarely if ever get to
that stage. Finding a yellow bike on Hampshire campus when one needs
it is a rarity and convenience, not something people expect or depend
- Although it is not predicted to be a major issue at Hampshire, some
communities may have traffic patterns which require program maintainers
to transport vehicles from racks at popular destination, to popular
departure areas. The status of racks can be remotely monitored and data
can be archived over time to predict when certain racks may need attention.
Phase One - Research, Product design, and
The initial phase of our project is to do necessary research to determine
the specific elements that insure a successful community bike program.
We will also be identifying the best technologies to use for the implementation.
We then intend to build a working prototype. This phase will take place
from August 2001 through May 2002. During this phase we will continue
to support the existing Hampshire Yellow Bike Program by using a fraction
of our funds to raise the number of bicycles in our fleet. We may be able
to use this equipment in the next phase of our program.
Phase Two - Fund Raising & Program Implementation
Once a working prototype is developed, we hope to implement the program
at Hampshire College. Doing so will require fund raising through grant
funding. During this phase we will also work closely with the college
and the sustainable campus plan.
During this phase we hope to not only provide the Hampshire
community with a viable short range transportation alternative, but to
fine tune the system so it can easily be implemented in other communities.
We are seeking 4500 dollars in funds for the design and construction
of a system prototype. This will include the construction of a simplified
locking rack, a modified off-the-shelf scooter and bicycle, and centralized
authentication server. To avoid as many pitfalls as possible, we will
also be doing research through surveys and visiting other advanced community
Thus far we have raised 2500 dollars. We are looking to the Sustainable
Student Ventures for the remaining 2000 dollars to implement phase one
of the project.
Bicycle rack - $1800
- locking mechanism
- identification and location confirmation equipment
- Touch memory chips
- Touch memory readers
- Touch memory interface equipment
- computer Node equipment
- low-end computer
- card reader
- controller equipment to interface
Vehicle construction scooter/bicycle - $800
- Off the shelf equipment
Computer Equipment for authentication - $600
- Centralized server
Miscellaneous - $500
- Research supplies
- Specialized construction tools
- CAD software
Existing Program Support - $800