When Walking Won’t Cut It: Safe-Transportation Systems Around Campus

February 14, 2017
  • safe transportationASMSU Bike Share offers bikes for free checkout
  • Other services provide safe escorts and bus rides
  • New safe-transportation website details the services

Sometimes safety is a concern. Other days, walking just takes too much energy. MSU is such an expansive campus that navigating it can be overwhelming, and sometimes walking simply won’t fit your needs. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternative methods of making your way around campus.

Have you ever woken up and simply not wanted to walk across campus to class? Then ASMSU’s Bike Share Program is for you. This free, non-motorized transportation for students began in 2015 with eight bikes outside Bailey Hall. Through an effort this summer by Jason Barnett, ASMSU’s vice president of finance and operations, the program expanded to its current 40 bikes and one hand cycle, leading to 1,200 checkouts this fall semester. All you need is a valid student ID and a bike can be yours for 24 hours. Bikes are now available for checkout at the front desks of Butterfield, Snyder, North Hubbard, and East Wilson halls, in addition to Bailey.

The Bike Share program is a combined effort between Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), Residence and Hospitality Services (RHS), MSU Bikes, Student Affairs and Services, Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD), and many others.

Barnett said he loves that ASMSU Bike Share provides reliable transportation to students. According to Barnett, four new hand cycles will be added soon, and they hope to expand off campus as “this fabulous way to get around” continues to grow.

Maybe bikes aren’t your style. Or perhaps your cram session at the library lasted longer than expected. Or maybe it was movie night in your friend’s dorm. Then CATA and Alpha Phi Omega will come to the rescue.

CATA’s Night Owl Service provides transportation when regular CATA buses are not running. This service transports riders from one on-campus location to another.

“It was really convenient, took no time at all, and it got me where I needed to go,” said Ian Campa, a junior packaging major from Perry, Mich.

Night Owl runs from 2 to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. All you have to do to use the service is call 517-432-8888 and within 20 minutes, a small bus will magically appear to take you anywhere on MSU’s campus you wish to go. Standard CATA rates apply. A ride is only pocket change though; 60 cents for students and $1.25 non-students.

safe transportationIf you’re at the MSU Union or the Main Library, another option for getting home after a late-night cram session is Statewalk, a service organized by MSU’s chapter of the national community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. It’s also completely free. Volunteers will escort you on your walk to any location on campus from the Union and Library. Alpha Phi Omega’s volunteers are available Sunday through Wednesday, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., during both the fall and spring semesters. Simply find the Statewalk table near the reference desk in the Main Library’s first floor lobby, or visit the Union’s information desk.

The future for safe transportation is only getting brighter.

In addition to the fantastic options currently available, ASMSU is developing a Safe Ride program for off-campus trips.

The Safe Ride program is going to be similar to CATA’s Night Owl service, Barnett, said, but it will transport students to off-campus locations as well—as long as the location is the passenger’s official address. The service will be free and, unlike Night Owl, you won’t have to place a call. Safe Riders will use an app, like Uber, to hail rides.

The service will be piloted in March.

Unlike Uber or Night Owl, Safe Ride will be free, which is perfect for student-sized bank accounts. Many other universities already have programs like Safe Ride in place, Barnett said, so this program will “bring MSU to a level playing field with its peers in the Big Ten.”

Safe Ride was born from the idea that students’ first instinct is to walk, which isn’t always a safe choice, because, as Barnett puts it, students walking late at night can be targeted by criminals. The goal of Safe Ride is to become students’ first thought, before they put themselves in an unsafe situation by walking home.

So whether it’s an early commute to class, a late night crawl home from the library, or anything in between, never limit your transportation options to walking again.

For more information about services, check out the Student Affairs webpage Safe-Transportation Systems Around Campus.

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