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Tar Heel Bikes, one of the largest bicycle share programs of its kind at an American public university, will roll out 30 bikes for students who live on campus starting Thursday (Aug. 23).

After a 2 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at Rams Head Plaza, students can take the bikes for test rides until 5 p.m.

On-campus residents may check out one of the 30 new bikes for free for up to 24 hours to get to classes, buy groceries or take a trip downtown. Students check out Tar Heel Bikes by swiping their One Card at the front desk of three residence halls – Craige, Ehringhaus and Hinton James – just like they would check out a book at the library.

The bicycles were purchased from the Kona AfricaBike Three program, which donates bicycles to healthcare workers, schools, water monitoring officers and goodwill organizations throughout sub-Saharan Africa. For every two bikes purchased in the US, Kona sends one abroad.

Tar Heel Bikes was created by a student group led by juniors Akhil Jariwala and Danny Allen. In 2011, they executed a 600-person campus survey that indicated that 84 percent of students were interested in a bicycle share program. Jariwala and Allen then partnered with the ReCYCLEry, a local nonprofit dedicated to increasing the use of bicycles for transport and recreation, to propose a 30-bike program that the ReCYCLEry could help maintain. With the endorsement of the UNC Department of Housing and Residential Education, the Residence Hall Association took on the project to provide an additional amenity to students living on campus.

Tar Heel Bikes received funding from the Residence Hall Association, the Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee, the UNC Parents Council, and the Strowd Roses Foundation.

Published August 22, 2012.