The Great Race: Rose Introduces Campus Bike-share Program

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Fans looked on as President Rob Coons raced Rosie the Elephant at Cook Stadium during halftime of the Fightin’ Engineers football squad’s home opener. The event promoted the new campus bike-share program.

Not since John Henry challenged the steam drill has anticipation hung so heavily in the air at the start of a race.

A large crowd looked on as, in lane one, waited a confident President Rob Coons. Meanwhile, in lane two waited Rosie, the intrepid Rose-Hulman mascot. Seated on their bicycles, the two competitors were about to square off in a blistering match of will and speed on two wheels.

The purpose of this highly anticipated bicycle race, which took place at Cook Stadium during halftime of the Fightin’ Engineers football squad’s home opener, was to introduce the campus community to a new bike-share program.

“It’s not every day you get to see President Coons race Rosie on a bike,” said Alexa Kovacs, president of the Student Government Association, which partnered with the Sports and Recreation Center to make the new program a reality.

The bike-share program brings 30 bikes and nine different bike-parking locations to campus. Students, faculty and staff use a free app, called Movatic, on their smartphones to check out a bike for up to two hours, facilitating a quick trip to class or a ride into town on the Heritage Trail for groceries. All you need to use the app and borrow a bike is a email address.

The immediate success of the program is evidenced by the scores of students who can be seen peddling the white, unisex bikes between classes on a daily basis. In just the first week of the program there were 1,490 bike rentals by 495 different users, says Ryan Brimberry, director of sports and recreation facilities at Rose-Hulman.

The bikes can be borrowed and returned to different locations, and come equipped with a sturdy cargo basket, an adjustable leather seat, a warning bell and seven speeds. They even have tiny lights, powered by solar energy, that make them more visible at night.

And, as for the Big Race? Rosie, perhaps due to being hindered by a race official, got off to a slow start, leaving a wide-open track for the president, who pedaled down the raceway at a dominant pace and won by several lengths.

Rematch anyone?