UCI to debut campus bike-share system

IRVINE, Calif. Students and staff at University of California-Irvine will be zipping across campus on a state-of-the-art bike-sharing system called ZotWheels. The bikes provide a green alternative to cars with the goal of reducing traffic on campus.

Patrick Lavaveshkul tries out a new bike at UC Irvine. It's not his -- it's not a rental. It's a bike hundreds of other students will share with him.

"You can definitely get places faster," said Lavaveshkul.

Thirty bikes will be available on campus through the first automated bike-sharing program in the UC system.

With a swipe of a card, the system allows riders to choose their bike from one station on campus, ride it to another location, then lock it up at another station.

"You'll be able to check out bike for three hours and then check back in," said Ken Ezell, UCI Parking and Transportation.

Four stations are located on campus for use only by UCI students and staff, who pass an online safety course and pay for a membership card.

The membership card costs $40 a year. The fee rises to $200 if the bike is severely damaged or if it's not returned within 24 hours

"It's beneficial to have bikes on campus because campus is huge," said student Angie Gereis. "Getting around campus can be problem if only have 10 minutes for each class."

"Buying a bike is pretty expensive," said UCI student Missy Yousefi. "Locking it is tedious. This is wherever you need it. You can just take one."

Of course it's not for everyone. Many students already own bikes. Some just prefer to walk. Officials say it's just another option besides driving, stressing that for every mile someone rides a bike instead of driving, it means about a pound less of tailpipe emissions in the air.

"If we can eliminate many of those small trips then we can further reduce our carbon footprint," said Ezell.

Officials say once students get signed up, they should be sharing their ride in a few weeks.

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