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Bikes all rented out at UCLA Bike Library

By Naheed Rajwani

Sept. 30, 2011 3:28 a.m.

The UCLA Bike Library opened its doors for rentals at 10 a.m. on Monday.

Three hours later, all the bicycles available for loan were gone ““ leaving many disappointed would-be bike renters.

This was the first time the program ran out of bikes to lend to students, said Sarah Beth Thompson, who heads the UCLA Bike Library and is a program coordinator for the John Wooden Center’s Office of Outdoor Adventures. Since its inaugural year in 2010 when bike rentals were pretty slow, the program has grown in popularity.

Drew Baldwin, a first-year graduate student in urban planning, was the first person in line to get a bike on Monday. He is a member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Sierra Club and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Baldwin said he found out about the program last week when he visited the Outdoor Adventures Center to learn more about its offerings.He noticed that the center was crowded with bikes.

“A staffer told me that if I wanted to rent one I would have to come early because the bike rentals were really popular,” Baldwin said. He showed up a full hour in advance.

The library has expanded from 50 to 90 bikes this year and the cost to rent bikes has increased from $35 to $45.

Siddharth Bhasker, a graduate student in mathematics, showed up early enough to rent a bike for the second year in a row. He said the cheap price of the rentals was the main attraction.

“This was clearly a good deal,” he said.

The $10 increase in rental prices will pay for upkeep which will maintain the bicycles in good condition despite continuous use, Thompson said.

Each rental includes a bike, helmet, lock, and front and rear lights.

Austin Arruda, a mechanic at the bike library, said the deal is still good compared to those offered by private companies. The third-year environmental science student does tune-ups on UCLA bikes to ensure that they are ready to be rented out to students.

The bike library is funded by the UCLA Green Initiative Fund, which gave more than $15,000 to the program last spring. The Green Initiative Fund, which aims to increase environmental sustainability at UCLA, is supported by student fees.

The overwhelming response to the bike-lending program forced organizers to find better ways to process bike rentals because students who have class when the rental program opens are at a disadvantage, Arruda said. It is still unclear whether more bikes will be available for rent in the future.

Over the past week, the office received several phone calls from students looking to rent a bike, Thompson said.

By Wednesday night, there were 28 people on the wait-list for bike loans.

“We hate to turn (people) down,” Thompson said.

Bikes can only be rented out to UCLA students on a first-come, first-served basis, but the center plans to put in place a fairer system for renting bikes next quarter, Thompson said.

“We want to be prepared in case we have fewer bikes and more people lining up at the door in the future,” she added.

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Naheed Rajwani
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