University offers employee bike loan program

In the past two years the visible number of bicycles on Murray State’s campus has increased.

But this rise is not confined to students. Faculty and staff are also using the power of pedals in transporting themselves to and from campus.

This is no coincidence. Murray State implemented a new loan program for faculty and staff to purchase bicycles. The program is based off of an earlier model used for the purchase of computers. The program allows for faculty and staff, employed for at least six months, to take out a no-interest loan of up to 80 percent of the cost of a bicycle and its accessories, so long as it is not more than $2,000.

Mike Gowen, member of the President’s Commission on Campus Sustainability, said the plan came out of a long discussion on how to get campus more active and bike-friendly.

“It is an important first step in making the campus community more bike-friendly and encouraging faculty and staff to consider ‘green’ commutes,” Gowen said.

Gowen said since the program started in the fall of 2011 the amount of participation has increased.

“I think participation has steadily grown,” Gowen said. “I’ve even taken part in the program.”

Matt Falwell, owner of Gear Up Cycles in Murray, said there has been a lot of interest in his shop about the loan program. But he believes this program is about much more than money.

“Yes there’s the financial incentive,” Falwell said. “But it’s giving them the chance to see bicycles as another mode of transportation.”

Falwell said the bicycle loan idea is spreading outside of Murray State.

“I’ve been in contact from local municipalities about this,” Falwell said. “Human resource people realize that if your employees are exercising and active and have better health they can save money on healthcare costs.”

Falwell said he would like to see the program expand and even see the city provide a better environment for bicycle commuters.

“We need better infrastructure,” Falwell said. “Investments for sidewalks and bike lanes has people physically active and when people use bicycles for their daily tasks they’re reducing on the wear and tear of our roads. It’s good for everyone in the community.”