October 27, 2021

SUNY Cortland students on a roll

SUNY Cortland senior Kayla Simpson rides one of the yellow university fleet bikes Monday near the Student Life Center in Cortland.

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

SUNY Cortland senior Kayla Simpson rides one of the yellow university fleet bikes Monday near the Student Life Center in Cortland.

Walking from the west campus of SUNY Cortland to center campus can take about 20 to 30 minutes for some students.
But with a bike, just about 10 minutes.

That is the case for Johannes Steuding, a junior sports management major at the college. Although, as an international student from Germany, the biggest benefit of the bike, to him, is it is free.

There are about 100 free bikes available to students and faculty of the school, which they can use on a weekly basis. It is a program SUNY Cortland has had for about 12 years, according to Jason Harcum, the assistant director of recreational sports for Outdoor Pursuits — the organization located in the school’s Student Life Center, which houses the bike program.

He said the program initially started as a school project students developed and as more bikes were donated over time, it eventually grew into a popular school program. When the Student Life Center was completed in the spring of 2015, Outdoor Pursuits took it over.

The bright yellow bikes are available at the beginning of the school year. They can be used for a week at a time, in order for more students to use them. And just about all 100 bikes are out at a time, Harcum said. The bikes are fixed gear models, meaning they have a single gear and back peddle brake, but they serve their purpose.

There is a dollar-a-day late fee for the bikes and students are responsible for replacing the bike if they lose it or wreck it. But the bikes always come back in one piece, Harcum said.

Outdoor Pursuits also has 10 bikes that students and faculty can rent for a fee for the entire school year. Harcum said staff take advantage of this more than students and rarely take out the free bikes.

The organization also rents out mountain bikes to students and faculty as a way to grow the outdoor activity culture on campus, he said.

For Steuding, the bikes are convenient because as an international student he has no car on campus.

“I can just got to Walmart for supplies or wherever,” he said. “It’s good.”

Olivia Terry, a sophomore recreation management major, said the bike has also helped her to easily get to places off campus, too. Last semester she worked at the Cortland Youth Bureau and being able to take the bike out for free allowed her to have the position and always get to it on time after class.

Both said they take advantage of using the bikes every day they can, because it makes life on campus easier, cutting in half the time their daily commutes take.