Sharing is Caring: A Review of Auburn’s Bike Sharing Program
I am a “trier.” Whenever I find somewhere new to go, something new to eat or some new activity to try, I’m there— waiting in line for my turn to begin a new adventure.
So when I learned that Auburn was starting a bike sharing program, I knew that I had to try it.
On a warm, sunny afternoon last week, I had a lot of free time, so I decided to finally try one of the bikes. I had no idea what I needed to do to get a bike, so I walked up to the rack, read the posted sign, and learned I first had to download the Social Bicycles app, SoBi. I dowloaded it and quickly created an account, entering my debit card number so the app could charge me if I misused the bike. The bikes are free to use for two hours each day, but they charge $5 per hour for each hour after that (which I thought was pretty reasonable).
I quickly reserved the bike using the app, then eagerly skipped down the rack to find it. I found my assigned bike and stared down in horror.
The bike seat was lifted as high as it could go, and with what little bike knowledge I had, I knew that I would need a wrench to lower the seat.* At 5-foot-1, I was doomed to suffer— legs dangling helplessly, unable to reach the pedals.
With a hopeful spirit, I attempted to lower the seat. “Maybe this will work,” I thought to myself. Nope. I felt the stares of the people walking to the baseball game across the street, and I quickly began to lose confidence. After a 10-minute struggle, I was frustrated and locked the bike back up and returned to my car.
Later that night, I was telling my brother the story of how my height once again created complications in my life. He looked at me, dumbfounded. “Taylor,” he said. “You do realize you could have just returned that bike and picked one with the seat lowered, right?”
So we returned together to the bike rack, optimistic that I would finally get to take a cruise on a bike. I explained to my brother how to download the app, and he quickly set up an account. However, I learned this time that I didn’t have to reserve a bike ahead of time. I could simply walk to the bike racks, punch in my account number and PIN on the tiny screen seated on the back of one of the bike, and ride away into the sunset.
I typed the information in, feeling triumphant as I rolled my bike away from the rack. I got on the bike, ready to pedal my way across campus until… well... I toppled over.
After picking myself up and dusting myself off, I attempted pedaling again. This time I was still a little wobbly, but quickly started picking up speed. I was finally moving at a reasonable pace, crossing the street, and cruising by the baseball stadium.
I couldn’t believe I’d decided at 13 that riding a bike was childish. There was nothing juvenile about feeling the warm breeze in my hair as I enjoyed Auburn’s beautiful campus from a fresh new perspective. While enjoying my tour around campus, I was also getting in a great workout. Who could object to that, right?
After returning my bike, I walked back to my car thinking of the possibilities this could create for myself and other Auburn students. For those who don’t have their own bike, this could be a great opportunity to maintain your bike skills and to navigate campus very quickly. Running late for class? Grab a bike and get there in half the time. Huge shout-out to Auburn for starting the program, by the way. I think it’ll be a big hit, even for students standing tall at 5-foot-1.
Be well, Auburn.
*Editor’s note: Auburn’s bike share program actually uses bikes that are easily adjustable with a simple lever. Taylor's first bicycle was actually broken.
Photography: Brooklyn W.