Unfortunately, when first moving to Natchitoches, it won’t take you very long at all to notice there is a complete lack of public transportation in this college town community. It is true that most places are within walking distance, but you won’t notice a large amount of foot traffic in the area either.
While Uber and Lyft may still not be options for such a small town like Natchitoches, an alternative for those looking for easy transport and a way to reduce your carbon footprint is emerging. Bike sharing is already a very popular mode of transportation at many universities. So much so that apps like Lime and Bird have become popular nationwide. BikeShare is interested in becoming a part of Northwestern’s daily routine.
So how will students benefit from this? Well according to Lindsey West, CEO of the Bantam Strategy Group, the company intending on implementing the BikeShare system, the main goal is to improve upon the connectivity on campus. “The everyday student going from their dorm or classroom or to the student union is going to 100% benefit from this BikeShare system.” These bikes will allow students who don’t have other forms of transportation to have easier access to essentials that are off campus, for instance, the new bookstore, the grocery, or even the public library. The possibilities are endless.
These bikes are also specially designed. The bikes are expected to be customizable at the drop of a dime to accommodate different users. Most companies are switching to rubber-based tires to prevent flats as well. What’s really special about these bikes is the live GPS hidden on each bike which tells you and the company its location at all times, making it easier to access.
The way these bikes will work is that there will be a few BikeShare hubs sprinkled throughout the city. Bikes can be checked out and returned from different hubs, meaning that you don’t need to return it where you originally got it from. “It’s usually accessed through an app,” according to West, “so everything is right there at your fingertips; it’s seamless.” The app that will be used to accommodate said bikes have not yet been determined. Nonetheless, expect there to be one-time use options for payment as well as monthly memberships that can provide benefits such as a keycard in the event you do not have access to your phone.
The goal is to have this plan formed by this summer, preferably the month of June, according to West. After a plan has been formed and depending on decisions made, these bikes may be implemented by the end of 2019 but could take years.
Photo by Valentina Perez Espinosa.