Rent a Bike or Save a Bike: The Pedal Program and Local Tips

Pedal, a community bike share program, intends to make bicycle transport available to even more people. Originally started in the summer of 2016, the Pedal program now boasts nine bike locations in Corvallis, each within two blocks of a bus stop.

Corvallis’ enthusiasm for bike transport is nothing new. The town was named a Gold Level Bicycle Community by the League of American Bicyclists multiple times over, and has the highest percentage of bike commuters in towns over 50,000 nationwide. Bike racks and shops are scattered all over town, inviting everyone to join the 24 percent of community members who regularly commute by bike. 

According to Tarah Campi, the Community and Economic Development Planner who oversees the Pedal program, there are more than 700 people with Pedal passes, and since 2016, more than 3,900 trips have been made.

Campi stated that the Pedal program provides an “affordable and accessible transportation option” that is helpful for connecting to transit or exploring new areas. 

Community members 18 and older can get a pass to use the bikes. Passes range from $5 for a three-day pass to $25 dollars for an annual pass. When using a bike, rides under two hours are free, but each additional hour incurs a $3 charge.

Each bike comes fully equipped with a bell, automatic front and rear lights, a basket, eight gears, and a fender. The bikes are also regularly serviced by a maintenance crew in town that makes sure there are bikes available at each bike rack location.

When asked about thefts, Campi stated that, “the bikes are pretty well-made and harder to be vandalized because the lights and other components are strongly attached to the bicycle itself.” 

Unfortunately, many bike owners in Corvallis have had the opposite experience with their personal bikes.

Representatives from two local bicycle shops – Peak Sports and Bike N Hike – both confirmed that bicycle and bike-related items are at a high-risk of theft if the owners don’t take precautions. Like any college town, bicycles are in high demand, and Corvallis is no exception. 

Dave Sullivan, a sales person at Peak Sports, recounted two instances in the last three weeks of customers buying a bike and returning to the store to buy another after the first was stolen. 

Raj Injety, a mechanic at Bike N Hike, shared a similar story of a student who bought a bike and came back the next day to buy two more wheels because both of his were taken the first day he used it.

The message from both shops is clear: your bike should look like Fort Knox. 

The first step to defending your bike is using a U-lock, looping it through the back tire and bike frame when locking it to a bike rack. If you don’t have a U-lock, use a chain of hardened steel, as cable locks are easy to cut through and don’t serve as much of a deterrent. 

Both stores also recommended winding a cable lock through the U-lock and the both tires, or taking the front tire with you when you leave your bike unattended. Most new bikes have quick-release front and back tires, which is great for convenience, but not for keeping them secure.

Also, consider your bike accessories. Use lights that are easy to remove and take with you when locking your bike. Sullivan recounted multiple customers who had lost lights, handlebars, wheels, seats, and every other detachable fixture.

His advice is, “any accessories will disappear in this town – take everything you can with you.”

By Kristen Edge