UAF Green Bikes gets upgrade

UAF Green Bikes is launching custom rental software on Monday, Nov. 11. The software will let students check out bikes, sign in to use the shop tools and track program use at two new computer stations located at the Green Bikes shop. The software was developed in partnership with sister program Aggie Blue Bikes from Utah State University, and the computers were donated by the Institute of Arctic Biology.

The Green Bikes program was founded in 2010 by UAF students Michaela Swanson, Ben Abbott, and Lorien Nettleton. They wrote a proposal to the Review of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy (RISE) Board, outlining a program with the goal of providing low-cost, long-term bike rentals to UAF students and affiliates. After approval, they purchased 20 bikes in the spring of 2011.

“When we started, we didn’t have a location for the shop, a program director or even anywhere to assemble the bikes when they arrived.” said Abbott. Outdoor Adventures provided a home and oversight for the program, which grew quickly due to strong student demand. “At the first few bike releases, all the bikes were gone within 15 minutes,” said Abbott. “We expected the program to be popular but had no idea there were so many UAF students who wanted to ride bikes.”

In two years the program expanded 10-fold. Green Bikes currently has two student employees, nearly 200 bikes and a permanent home at the Nordic House. It is run through the Office of Sustainability and has a steering committee with student, faculty and community membership.

As the program grew, so did the paperwork. “With hundreds of students using the program each semester, keeping track of rental forms and liability waivers was becoming a full-time job.” That is when Utah State University’s Aggie Blue Bikes got involved. Andy Taylor, a Blue Bikes employee and computer programmer, had developed rental software for the Utah program. After a few conference calls with Taylor and Blue Bikes’ director Stephanie Tomlin, the software was shared with Green Bikes for the cost of covering some of the development investment. Jock Irons and Phill Harrington at the Institute of Arctic Biology refurbished two old computers and arranged for them to be donated to the program as user kiosks in the shop.

“The community support has been amazing, from far away in Utah, and right here at UAF,” said Abbott. “We think the software will have a huge impact on program operations, and will allow Green Bikes employees to focus on core program goals–increasing bike ridership and educating student riders–instead of wading through paperwork and chasing down bikes.”

For more information on Green Bikes or to learn how to check out a bike or donate a bike go to or visit the Green Bikes Facebook page: