Pedal Grinnell prepares bike share program on campus


Cornelia Di Gioia and Maddi Shinall

A photo-graphic depiction of a proposed bike rack outside the Forum. Pedal Grinnell has purchased 20 bikes to place around campus for student use.

Molly Wilcoxson, Staff Writer

Student organization Pedal Grinnell plans to allow students to rent bikes on campus — for free. The bike-sharing initiative has purchased 20 bikes for student use, and it will allow any student to rent a bike from various locations around campus starting in the spring semester.

Pedal Grinnell is the first student organization to be approved by the Student Government Association (SGA), and it is dedicated to providing free rental bikes for students. Eli Brotman `25 first came up with the idea for a completely free, carbon-neutral bike share program last year. After some planning and a successful SGA referendum for Pedal Grinnell, he enlisted the help of Tanner Alger `25 and Rachel Bottum `24 to run the initiative during the 2022-23 school year.

“After I realized how much work it was going to be and how many resources we would need, I got some people together,” Brotman said.

Last year, SGA approved a request for Pedal Grinnell to purchase 20 bikes to be stationed around campus for student use. Brotman said he estimates that, by next semester, these bikes will be available for students to use. Pedal Grinnell will run alongside Bird, an electric scooter renting service the city of Grinnell implemented in 2021.

“One of the things we wanted to do was offer an alternative to the Bird scooters,” said Alger. “We don’t really like the scooters at all. Because they’re electric, they have to be charged, which has an emissions cost. It’s not done in a sustainable way, and it isn’t free.”

The bike sharing program will work with the assistance of On Bike Share, which is currently available to download on the app store. If a student wants to rent a bike, they first must understand the expectations of using the service, such as proper bike etiquette and Pedal Grinnell’s usage expectations.

After the app approves the student to use the bike, the bike will unlock itself for the selected time slot. When the student is done, they simply return the bike to one of the docking stations.

“One of our main goals was to just provide free bikes for students,” said Brotman, “especially because there’s a problem with bikes being stolen on campus.”

Pedal Grinnell has attracted the interest of many students. At their table during the Student Organization Fair on Sept. 8, Alger said they filled “four whole notebook pages” full of interested students.

One of the shared sentiments among some of these interested students was the ability to explore Grinnell past its campus.

Gabriela Roznawska `26 first heard about Pedal Grinnell at the fair. “I feel like I’ll be able to have fun past Grinnell’s campus,” they said. “I want to discover more beautiful places in Iowa.”

Scott Lee `26 said that Pedal Grinnell will make transportation across campus “less of a hassle” than simply walking. “I think it’s important to just generally provide an avenue for college students to explore the area they live in,” he said.

After the bike-share program is implemented next semester, Pedal Grinnell hopes to expand their organization to create a cohesive cycling community. Alger, who is from Grinnell and has worked at Bikes To You downtown for over six years, also hopes to offer free repairs and maintenance for students’ bikes.

“The bike share program is more because we needed something flashy to draw people’s attention,” Alger said. “Long-term, we want to build more of a cycling community on campus as well as teach people how to fix their own bikes.”