Thursday, April 23, 2009

2009-10 Velorution Press Release

The first Ripon College Velorution Project (RVP), the innovative bicycle program for freshmen, had so many unknowns it could have been called the Velorution Experiment. A little more than one year after the debut of the famous free-bike program, however, college officials feel the experiment is worth repeating.


“The RVP will be offered once again to the class of 2013,” said Ripon College President David C. Joyce. “Leave your car at home this fall and we’ll give you a quality bike to keep. That’s still the deal.”


The program’s $50,000 price tag is not insignificant for a college Ripon’s size (1,057 full-time students). Despite some belt-tightening in other areas, however, the college was loath to scale back or eliminate the RVP.


“We’re facing the same economic challenges as many other colleges, but the support of this program by our alumni, trustees and friends hasn’t abated. I think that speaks to how much we believe in it,” said Joyce. “It’s part of our identity now.”


Initially conceived as a way to mitigate parking woes on campus, the program’s focus expanded to address such concerns as student wellness, fuel costs, pollution and safety. A roadway through main campus was also vacated and re-landscaped last fall to make it more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, setting the stage for an even less motorized campus going forward. Since its Feb. 2008 introduction variations on the program have been implemented at several other colleges.


Cannondale is the official bicycle partner of Velorution 2.0, which will apply a custom paint scheme and Ripon College graphics in red and white to each F9 mountain bike used for the program. Locks and lights will be furnished by Madison, Wis.-based Planet Bike.

Measuring Success
About 1/3 of participating students responded to a recent survey about their experience. Ric Damm, RVP coordinator and cycling coach, said the program seems to have resonated with students.


“Feedback was very positive. The majority of students said they used their bikes for recreation and to run errands off campus,” Damm said. “While we still need to address bike parking in some key areas on campus, overall I think the program fared well in year one.”


Although this year’s participants could bring a car next fall if they wanted, 81 percent of respondents said they won’t do it, either because their bike is sufficient (52 percent) or they don’t have a car at all (29 percent). Fifty-four percent of respondents said their bike use increased as a result of the RVP, and 82 percent said they would encourage future students to sign the pledge.


The 2008 pledge offered a free Trek mountain bike to any freshman who vowed not to bring a car to campus for the duration of their first year. More than 160 students took the deal, or six of every ten in the Class of 2012. The bikes were handed out Aug. 26, 2008.


For more information, including an FAQ and the full text of the RVP Pledge, visit www.ripon.edu/velorution.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

This sounds like a great program! Cutting down on gas emission is important. The other benefit is getting those students outside and exercising! I was wondering if the school also provides bike locks for each bike?

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