By Brecken Mumford | Contributor
Next week, 25 bright yellow Taylor Taxis will speckle campus. While your typical yellow cabs run on four wheels and gasoline, Taylor's are two-wheeled contraptions powered by the rider.
The Taylor Taxi service, part of a larger project dubbed "Up-Cycle," is a shared-use bike system that offers students, staff and faculty a free, environmentally friendly way to navigate campus. All bikes used in this program were gathered by Mike Guebert, professor of geology and environmental science, and refurbished by students.
Over the last eight years, Guebert has collected 400 abandoned bikes from Taylor's campus in hopes of reducing "bike-borrowing." Now this system is becoming a reality.
"We have 25 Taxis almost ready to launch, just waiting on final signs to be attached," Guebert said.
The signs attached to the bikes will include the basic rules: just grab, go and return to a bike rack.
The taxi service is free of charge and available to all. More rides will be added to the fleet after the supply, located in storage across town, is refurbished. The yellow bikes will be on campus until around November when the weather starts shifting.
Students around campus seem to be responding positively to the idea of the grab-and-go service.
"I think it's a really great idea," sophomore Cassie Whetstone said. "Especially for those who, because of travel, can't bring bikes but would like to have one."
Along with the taxi service, a bike co-op is planning on opening its doors in the spring. Located in the garage of the Honors Lodge, the co-op will provide opportunities for students to maintain university-owned bikes as well as help students learn how to properly repair their own bikes. Proper tools have been purchased from a specialty bike company, Park Tool, and students who volunteer and work for the co-op will be trained in the proper use of the tools.
Many campuses across the U.S. have attempted similar "yellow-bike" programs with limited success, but Guebert is confident in the program's success at Taylor.
"I think this could work." he said. "My hope is that people will rise to the level of understanding that this is something to be shared and is common ground for everyone to use."
The taxi service and co-op are funded by donations made throughout the past five years. Taylor Women's Giving Circle gave initial funding in 2009, making it possible to purchase tools from Park Tool. Later in 2013 Up-Cycle received a boost in funds from the Ball Brothers Foundation Venture.
Now, after years of planning and talking, these bikes are getting new wheels. While they are not finished or shiny and new as some student-owned bikes, these refurbished rides will color campus for years to come.