Scripps Students Found Green Bikes Program

After a summer of planning, organizing, and gathering equipment, this semester Scripps College launched its first Green Bikes Program, a student-run organization that facilitates day or semester-long bike rentals as well as a bike repair service.

Prior to this semester, Scripps students had access to bike rentals only through the Tiernan Field House’s daylong bike program, which allowed students to check out bikes for no more than 24 hours. Many students said they felt this program was insufficient.

The effort to organize the program was led by Kristin Piepgrass SC '12 and Asia Morris SC '12, who now spend much of their time working at Scripps’s new Green Bikes shop, which is located in the parking garage of the Sallie Tiernan Field House.

“You’d have to lug your bike all the way back to the Field House at the end of the day and then wait 24 hours before you could rent out another bike. And there’s never any guarantee that you get the same bike, so one day you might have a great bike and the next one might not fit you quite so well,” Morris said.

The new Green Bikes Program emerged from a desire to expand the daylong bike program into a more convenient and sustainable program that would promote the use of bikes on campus.

“I always think it’s such a shame when I see a student go out to Target and buy a $50 bike that they will kind of use over the next four years," Piepgrass said. "Bikes are meant to last a long time, and this is a great way to make sure that these bikes don’t go unused."

Piepgrass said she spent much of her time on campus this summer planning for the program.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to see, but never thought about starting myself," she said. "Then, once the idea got into my mind, I just did it."

When Piepgrass proposed the idea to members of the Scripps Associated Students (SAS), the governing organization of the Scripps study body, SAS voted unanimously to support the newly-minted Scripps Green Bikes Program.

Before this summer, Piepgrass had worked at Pitzer College's Green Bikes Program since her first year at the 5Cs. She offered to help repair bikes for the Field House, an idea that quickly blossomed into Scripps’s own Green Bikes Program. The program is now up and running with 30 bikes for day rental and 40 bikes for semester-long rental, which the Program acquired from the Maintenance Department’s collection of bikes that were impounded and unclaimed for over six months.

Since it is new, the number of bikes offered through Scripps's Green Bikes Program is fewer than Pitzer’s 10 day-bikes and 100 semester-bikes, but Piepgrass and Morris hope to narrow the difference by next semester. According to Piepgrass, one key difference between the Pitzer and Scripps programs is that Scripps there is a much stronger emphasis on day-bikes.

“The turnover on the day-bikes is really high,” she said. “About 10 to 15 bikes go out every day."

Students are also encouraged to bring bikes into the shop for repair.

“When girls come into the shop, it’s usually for a simple problem like realigning or replacing a flat," Morris said. "The goal is not to fix it for them immediately but to show them how."

"Our program seeks to empower women of the Scripps community by teaching them to fix this simple machine on their own,” she added.

According to Piepgrass and Morris, who were roommates during their first year at Scripps, it was not until college that they developed an interest in bikes and biking.

“I’m from Long Beach, so I always had a beach cruiser," Morris said. "But once I came here, I decided I wanted to move on from that." In her first year, Morris invested in a Mercier and began doing longer-distance rides, including the Juggernaut, a social Tuesday night ride in Claremont, in which both Morris and Piepgrass continue to participate.

“Biking has become a part of my life. It’s a fantastic method of transportation," Morris said. "I have a much healthier lifestyle, and in the last three years I’ve built a community with people who like to ride bikes. It’s such a simple concept, but so much good comes out of it."

Piepgrass and Morris said they hope to expand the Scripps Green Bikes Program and to firmly establish it within the Scripps community during their final year in Claremont. Goals for this year include acquiring more bikes, as well as recruiting more employees and volunteers by next semester.

“This program has come out of a wish to increase bike culture on campus and just directly stems from my love for bikes and knowing how to fix something myself, which I never thought I could do," Morris said. "If I could help other Scripps students do that too, that would be great."

“By the end of the year, I want students to see Green Bikes as a part of Scripps that we never thought we could live without," she added. "I want people to say, ‘How could we have never had this before?’”