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WVWC CFO Scott McKinney at Thursday's Consolidated Public Works Board meeting.

‘The Wheel Deal’: WVWC to implement bike-sharing program in fall

BUCKHANNON – West Virginia Wesleyan College’s campus will feature a new way to get around in the fall.

Scott McKinney, chief financial officer with West Virginia Wesleyan College, stopped by the City of Buckhannon’s Consolidated Public Works Board meeting Thursday, to talk about their upcoming bike-sharing program.

“The senior class typically gets together with Bob Skinner (vice president for advancement at Wesleyan), and some other folks to try and leave a meaningful gift behind,” McKinney said. “One of the ideas that bubbled up from the students was a bike share program and it ended up rising to the top.”

He said the students did all the research, looked at many different programs, and they discovered the Republic Bike Share Program.

“The program is used is many communities across the United States,” McKinney said. “The bikes are nearly indestructible; they are very low maintenance and they will cost about $1,000 apiece.”

He said students have been fundraising with a goal of $10,000 to get 10 bikes and two stations to store them on campus. There’s also an app students and other people on Wesleyan’s campus can download to gain and check access to the bikes. The stations/racks will have a scanner, and a registered user can use their phone to scan a code from the app, giving them access to the bike.

“This checks the bike out to the individual person, so they are responsible, and they have agreed in advance for this privilege that ‘I’m responsible for the cost for that bike if I tear it up or don’t bring it back’ and those sorts of things,’” McKinney explained.

He said those registered to use the bikes can take them anywhere in town – for example, to Walmart or Kroger, and the bikes have a built-in bike lock so they can be locked up like any other bike without buying a separate lock.

“They also have these detachable baskets, which is great for students who may not have access to a car and need to buy groceries or just need to carry something with them,” McKinney said.

He said the bikes will not have a set time limit, and they can only be returned to the two stations on campus.

“Even more good news is that Pepsi Cola has a sustainability and impact fund [through which] they offer relatively small grants anywhere from $500 up to $25,000, and I asked them for $10,000 in January, and I just heard about a month ago that we got it for this project,” McKinney said.

Nevertheless, college officials are still encouraging students to fundraise so they can potentially secure even more bikes in the future.

Buckhannon mayor David McCauley said he was interested in the program and would keep an eye on it to see if the city may try something similar in the future.

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