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Elizabeth DiCarlo, Class of '09
Friday, May. 1, 2009
Since this past June, when she read an article about a bike share program at Emory University in Atlanta, Elizabeth (Bea) DiCarlo has acquired the support of numerous faculty and staff, four partners, and, for the Santa Clara students, eight bicycles. Bronco Bikes' first month has been a great success, enabling students to have a fun, healthy, and sustainable alternative to driving.
On the day this interview took place, all of the bikes were checked out for the first time, and the Kennedy Commons desk staff was running the checkout process on their own. According to Bea, awareness of Bronco Bikes around campus is up, which is a good sign for the program’s future expansion.
The bike share program at Emory University, which first inspired Bea, was a partnership between the school and Fuji University, a bicycle company which wanted to make the city of Atlanta more sustainable. Later in the summer, Bea approached SCU's Sustainability Coordinator with her idea of a way for students to mobilize themselves while expanding the school’s work in sustainability. Bea says The Office of Sustainability was extremely helpful as a resource for connecting her with the appropriate people on campus, such as Charles Arolla (Campus Safety), and the RLC program, with which Bronco Bikes is affiliated.
After that came fund-raising. Most of the money needed to start Bronco Bikes came from private donors, and the start-up costs were not particularly high. In fact, the “fleet” is comprised of bikes purchased at about $50 each from Hope Services, a local non-profit organization which works to enable physically and mentally handicapped individuals to live more independently. Further reducing the program’s cost, maintenance on the bikes is done for free by the Cycling Club.
Bea says her main focus for this program is that it is convenient for students to check out and use the bikes. This is made possible by the technological expertise of Paul Arnaudo, who set up the computerized database and checkout system. Along with Paul, Bea recruited two other friends who she says she chose for their intelligence and strong work ethics: Kevin Carter and Maidere Sorhondo, all seniors. Later, freshman Vaishali Parekh joined the team to give the perspective of an underclassman and campus resident; the demographic they are targeting.
Even with the majority of the team graduating this spring, Bronco Bikes is still looking toward the future. Vaishali will take over the program in the fall. Bea hopes the program will expand its fleet and gain even more awareness on campus. Bronco Bikes’ founders will carry this experience with them into the future. Bea, Paul, and Kevin are all business majors, who have already gotten a taste of entrepreneurship. Maidere, a communications major, handles the publicity for Bronco Bikes. Bea plans to go into the green marketing field, but in the meantime is looking forward to a summer internship in Indonesia. Bea and the Bronco Bikes team has shown that sustainability can be fun and convenient.
Interview by Hannah Slocum, '11, Sustainability Intern