New bright yellow bikes are now cruising the streets of Beloit. The new fleet of bikes, named the “Sinnissippi Cruisers” after the Native American Sauk and Fox name for the Rock River, are available for students, faculty, and staff to receive and use for free.
The rental program is housed within The Gear Shack, which loans outdoor equipment from Beloit’s Powerhouse student union and recreation center. The new bike share program launched in October in conjunction with student leaders.
Because of the pandemic disruption in the spring semester, Beloit’s Outdoor Rec program was left with some unspent budget dollars, and that is what started students thinking about the possibility of an independent bike lending program. Student organizers Quin Brunner’21 and Henry Westly’21 connected with alumnus Bob Burns’80, who with his wife Jane Paschal Burns’81, donated the bicycles to the college.
Sinnissippi manager Daniela Aponte’21 believes the bike lending program will improve campus sustainability by “reducing our carbon footprint while also promoting more outdoor interactions with all the parks around the city of Beloit.” Both Aponte and Brunner hope the bicycles will improve students’ mobility and access to eco-friendly transportation for things like jobs and grocery shopping.
Brunner says another central point is to recognize that biking, specifically, has a history of racism, sexism, and classism. The program is committed to removing longstanding barriers by providing easy, free access to bikes.
For now, the project will function within COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of students and faculty. All bikes and equipment will be sanitized before and after rental. While students are encouraged to use the “self-care is community care” mindset, Aponte hopes the program “will help more students get out of their rooms and go out with their friends in a socially distanced way.”