Western Kentucky University Bike Lending Program
by Christian Ryan-Downing

Campus greening efforts are springing up all over at Western Kentucky University (WKU). One of our favorites is a bicycle lending program, “Big Red’s Bikes,” created by the student organization, “GreenToppers—Students for Campus Sustainability.”

WKU is an expansive campus, with lovely gardens and green space. Walking to class can be quite a hike. GreenToppers recognized that students and the planet could benefit by the availability of bicycles to check out on campus for hourly or daily use. With a commitment to reduce, reuse, and recycle, GreenToppers worked with the WKU Department of Parking and Transportation to “adopt” all of the abandoned bikes collected regularly around campus. GreenToppers uses donations of cash and labor to refurbish the old bikes and paint them bright red. Initially, finding a location for storing and loaning the bikes was difficult, but the WKU International Center welcomed the bikes, and recognized them as a great resource for international students who are not able to bring cars or bicycles to WKU. Any member of the campus community, as well as visitors to WKU, can go to the International Center and check out a bike.









Big Red, WKU President Gary Ransdell, and his wife Julie Ransdell,
test the bikes at the Big Red’s Bikes unveiling ceremony.
Photo courtesy of Jim Button.

As the fleet of bikes grows, GreenToppers hopes to add additional locations for bike check-out and storage, so that bikes can be picked up and dropped off all over campus. The Big Red’s Bike program is a sustainable success story: giving old bikes a new life, promoting good health, and greening the WKU campus!

Christian Ryan-Downing is the WKU Sustainability Coordinator, Campus Operations and can be reached at: ryan-downing@wku.edu.

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