T-Bird Bikes is a bike rental program that will offer free rentals to Southern Utah University students and faculty members anticipated to be in full operation by this coming October.
The new organization hopes to promote bike riding as not only a viable, but also a logistical alternative to driving.
T-Bird Bikes’s mission is “to encourage students to explore an alternative form of transportation by making bicycles more accessible and teaching them how to maintain, repair and enjoy them.”
By implementing the program at SUU, co-founders Greyson Jones and Paul Rhodes III hope it will encourage students and faculty to become more aware and feel better equipped to own and maintain a bike as a reliable mode of transport.
“[Teaching] people to enjoy their bikes, maintain their bikes and be healthier while doing it,” is the top priority according to Jones.
He also emphasized the importance of making the program free for students, saying, “The idea was that offering the bike rentals for free will incentivise more students to ride bikes and that’s better for the campus and the environment.”
Beyond renting out the bikes for free, part of what Jones and Rhodes say they hope to offer through their program is open shop times. This would allow students to come by and use the shop tools for free and get any help they may need with their bikes.
The idea for T-Bird Bikes was first approached by Rhodes and the SUU Sustainability Club as a potential solution to the university’s “perceived parking problem.”
Rhodes entertained the idea in the fall of 2019 by presenting it to SUU President Scott L. Wyatt. “Half way through our presentation [President Wyatt] stopped us and he said, ‘We are going to make this happen.’ Within a week we had a space,” said Rhodes.
Since this first meeting with the SUU president, Rhodes and Jones teamed up to make the idea a reality. After a year of ground work they met again with President Wyatt in August to secure funding for shop tools and parts.
“We get all of our bikes through donation,” Jones said when asked about obtaining the important asset.
Currently the shop houses 28 donated bikes all serviced by Jones and Rhodes and ready to be rented. The shop also sports tires, chains and a wealth of spare parts — though the duo is hoping to accumulate more.
“Lending can be for a day, a week, or even a semester,” Jones says.
Students and faculty who wish to rent one of their bikes will work with Jones and Rhodes to determine the length of the bike rental.
“We do ask that those renting from us take care of and maintain the bikes,” Jones continued, noting that there will be a hefty penalty if the bike is damaged or not returned to the shop after the agreed upon length of time.
Renters will need to provide a t-number to obtain a bike and any parts or fees will be automatically charged to that university account.
The T-Bird Bikes program will be offered as an extension of SUU Outdoors program with main operations at their shop located across the street from the Multipurpose Center next to Student Housing.
While the co-founders displayed enthusiasm at opening their doors, they are still awaiting approval of their bike rental waiver from SUU Outdoors. The two anticipate to be lending bikes and offering open shop times by the end of October.
Coronavirus precautions will be taken when business is underway.
While Jones says that he and Rhodes will oversee sanitation of bikes, they do ask that those attending shop hours or renting a bike wear a mask, practice social distancing and follow school recommendations.
T-Bird Bikes is still asking Cedar City and surrounding community members to donate unused or unwanted bikes at their shop located at 215 S 700 W.
T-Bird Bikes can be found on Facebook. Follow them for more information, opening dates, and links to their website when it is published. Any additional questions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by: Mikyla Bagley
Photos by: Courtesy of SUU