As part of a new University initiative, campus bike racks could see a little more use this semester.
The Board of Regents passed a motion in its February meeting to allow funds for no-interest loans to faculty and staff, giving them purchase assistance for bicycles and cycling accessories.
The motion derives from the think-tank Commission on Sustainability, one of three commissions formed by President Randy Dunn last spring. Several issues concerning the University were delegated to these groups of appointed faculty and staff.
Reika Ebert, German professor at Murray State and a member of the Commission for Sustainability, discussed key points that brought the bike loan program to fruition.
“People were invited who had shown interest in sustainability,” Ebert said. “Subcommittees submitted a number of ideas on air conditioning, heating, timed lights in buildings – a number of suggestions were made. The bicycle loan was just one of those ideas.”
Ebert said the bicycle loan proposal was easy to submit because it was a carbon copy of the laptop loan system, which is already in place for faculty and staff.
“We picked and chose which ideas would be relatively easy and feasible, and with the computer loan already in place, somebody came up with (using the computer loan system as a guide), especially with lower-income scales and trying to allow for affordability,” Ebert said.
According to a press release on roundaboutmurray.com, faculty and staff who have been employed for six or more months may seek to take a no-interest loan up to 80 percent of the cost of a bicycle and its accessories not to exceed $2,000.
The press release also stated loans must be repaid in either monthly or bi-weekly installments as deductions from payroll checks. Funds that are repaid will remain in a loan pool for future purchases within the program.
Ebert said she hopes many faculty and staff take advantage of the program in the coming months.
“You’ll always have parking in front of the building,” Ebert said. “When you see more bicycles and they become more popular, then more people will be on a bicycle. It’s good for one’s own health, it feels good and it takes up less space.”
Ebert noted a few disadvantages of the program, but she said she hoped it would not dissuade from the overall positives of the program and its future.
“If you live further away, then you can’t do it,” she said. “If you are carrying stuff, then that can be a big argument. What about weather and nice clothes? The one thing about academia is one doesn’t have to dress up as much as business.”
President Randy Dunn said the bike loan comes from one of many ideas being developed and implemented by the Commission.
“It’s not an anchoring element to the sustainability recommendations, but it’s one piece they felt was important and I supported that recommendation,” he said. “I’ve already had comments from a couple of individuals who have taken advantage of it and were very appreciative of the fact that it was there.”
Dunn said the program also complements Healthy Lifestyle initiatives taking place across campus.
Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, spoke positively of the bike loan program and what it could do for faculty and staff.
“It is another example of the University doing what it can to reach out and provide benefits for our employees,” he said.
Those interested in the program must submit the approximate cost of their bicycle and equipment in the form of a written quote from the seller. Also, interested parties may purchase their bicycles and equipment desired and then can be reimbursed before a two-week period has passed.
Written requests should be submitted to Camela Ramey, accounting specialist, room 200 at Sparks Hall.