SPIN bike share offers easy commute and community fun


Photo by Cindy Landrum. The Spin initiative has attracted 291 bikers with a total of 1,300 rides this semester.


Since student senate brought 100 fluorescent-orange SPIN bikes to campus in March, there have been 291 bikers and 1,300 rides logged into Calvin’s bike share program. The total sum of miles for these rides is 2,300; according to Christopher King, head of campus partnerships at SPIN, this initiative has saved 2,500 pounds of carbon dioxide, when compared to car travel.

According to Kieran Valk, sophomore and the student senate vice president who brought the bikes to campus, students in the Knollcrest East apartments have used the bikes the most. A battery and solar panel in each bike allows senate to track the locations of the bikes. This allows senate to make sure there are enough bikes in each of the racks on campus. In keeping with Calvin policy, bikes should be parked in existing racks.

One hundred SPIN bikes are available on campus to use, with 80 percent of them having been rented in the past week. If there is a problem with a bike, such as the chain breaking or a faulty Bluetooth connection, students are encouraged to send a message to SPIN via the “Spin – Ride Your Way” app so senate can take the bike offline and put a replacement into rotation. Senate has yet to replace any bikes, but will rotate the bikes every 30 days for regular maintenance.

“When we launch on a campus, there are always some small issues that we quickly work through,” said King. He then mentioned some of the primary issues at Calvin. “Some people don’t use their Calvin email address to access the discounted rate, or some bikes get damaged and need to be replaced.”Many students report that the bikes are easy to use once they figure out how to get started.

“Using the bikes was pretty simple,” said junior Hannah Spaulding. “It requires Bluetooth to be turned on, which I didn’t initially realize. But once I figured that out, unlocking the bikes was super easy.”

The bikes are also equipped with strong lights which make them safe to ride at night. A post by junior Rebecca Evans on the Facebook group Overheard at Calvin reported a sighting of a group of about 15 students riding the orange bikes around campus at 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday night.

Bikes may be ridden off campus as long as they are returned to campus within 24 hours. People have taken the bikes to areas such as Reeds Lake or Woodland Mall, said Valk. Senior Michael Verdi also reported a sighting downtown.

“[Riding the bikes] is more fun than driving and can be a great community-building event,” said Valk. He has already seen students biking in large groups–especially on the weekends–and suggested that the bikes could be used for dorm floor outings as well.

Valk hopes to see the bike share program continued in the future, but says SPIN will make the final call at the end of the school year based on profits. Senate has received an email from SPIN saying that they are happy with the usage of the bikes on Calvin’s campus so far.

“From what we have heard, there has been a great reception to our bikes on Calvin’s campus,” said King. “I know the unpredictable Michigan spring weather threw some wrenches in the plans somewhat, but for the most part, it has been a success.”

JB Britton, associate dean of campus involvement and leadership, commented that SPIN is gathering information to determine whether to add electric scooters to the current program.