Just a pedal away: What every Saint Rose student needs to know about bike sharing

Saint Rose boasts a compact urban campus students can get across in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. They can hit the Price Chopper supermarket or CVS between classes, or visit a $5 movie theater or restaurant in the evening and be back in the dorm in just minutes. Our Pine Hills neighborhood is blessed by good street lighting and wide sidewalks.

But Saint Rose students have transportation options other than their feet. Anyone who displays a student ID can ride a Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) bus for free. Buses that stop along campus can get them quickly to downtown cultural attractions and the Amtrak train station to the east, or to Crossgates Mall to the west.

But wait, there’s more.

Albany has just welcomed regional bike sharing, and two of the system’s stations border the Saint Rose campus, making it easy to grab a bike to get to a park, off-campus internship or restaurant and leave the bike at the nearest station.

Saint Rose students, who increasingly seek alternatives to cars, are also lucky that Albany’s new designated bike lane runs along campus at Madison Avenue – and that the city is extending the lane a mile to Lark Street.

There is, in fact, no other college campus in the Capital Region with as many amenities just a quick walk, bus or pedal away.

Here’s a student guide to bike-sharing in the Capital Region:

WHAT AND WHERE IS IT?

CDTA and the Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan have partnered on a regional bike share program to promote health, convenience, and opportunities to explore. The system includes a fleet of 160 bright-green bikes parked at 41 stations in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Saratoga Springs. Two of Albany’s 20 stations are located on Madison Avenue just a block or two from campus – at Ontario Street to the east, and at The Point to the west.

Users register online or download an app to create an account, provide payment information, and create a password. They punch in the password at the station to unlock the bike; then place the lock in a holster on the bike. When cyclists reach their destination, they lock the bike at the nearest station.

They can also use the app to locate a station, determine whether bikes are available, and reserve one, at no added charge.

WHAT COMES WITH THAT?

Bikes are equipped with three speeds, automatic lights, a basket that holds up to 20 pounds, a lock, and adjustable seat. Also: a digital display showing riders their route, distance traveled, and the charges incurred.

SO THE BUS IS FREE, BUT THE BIKE IS NOT?

Correct. The CDTA bus is free for students; the CDTA bike-sharing costs $5 an hour, prorated to 8 cents a minute. For $15 a month, or $70 a season, riders get an hour’s daily use. That rate is $35 for students. (After the hour the $5 fee kicks in.)

So Saint Rose students who wish to ride to, say, Lark Street or the Times Union Center can spend as little as 8 cents to borrow a bike, leave it at a nearby station, and use their bus pass on the return trip, and pay nothing.

THE FINE PRINT

Bike-sharers are welcome to lock their bikes anywhere within regional boundaries. However, the meter continues running – unless they end the transaction by using the “hold” feature. By doing so they will pay only the additional $2 fee for parking a bike somewhere other than at a bike-sharing station. (A GPS tells the bike-sharing people where to come collect it.)

So … a Saint Rose student living off campus who oversleeps on the morning of a biology exam can borrow a bike and lock it up on campus. This is a good deal – providing he or she ends the transaction and pays the $2 fee. Otherwise, the student incurs charges for the bike while taking the biology exam. (Bonus: If the bike is still there when they are done, they can check it out again.)

Also, the system ends November 30 and resumes April 30, at least for the first year as operators assess the viability of continuing through winter months.

BETTER SAFE …

Helmets are not provided so users should provide their own. They are encouraged to cycle wisely – ride in the street (not sidewalk), bike with a friend, and ride with the flow of traffic. As always, pedestrians have the right of way.

Those cute baskets? An ideal place to stash cellphones, which should not be looked at, listened to, or tapped while cycling. Also, the music can wait. Like anyone driving a car, cyclists need to hear as well as see what is happening around them. So ear buds are discouraged.

QUESTIONS?

Call 518-730-7202.