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UD gives 100 bikes to students who pledge to leave car behind

Cody Rice promised the University of Dayton he would not bring his car to campus. For ditching his four wheels, the university rewarded him with two.

Rice is one of 100 students who will receive a free bicycle from UD for pledging not to bring a car to campus for two years. Nearly 300 first-years made that promise as part of a new campaign by UD that drew national attention from Forbes magazine and The New York Times.

Rice, a Northmont High School graduate, said he signed knowing if he didn’t have his car, he would spend more time on campus, meet more people and “really get the most out of my time here at the University of Dayton.”

The students will get their bikes Friday at the grand opening for UD’s new Outdoor Engagement Center, located 438 Stonemill Road. UD will hold a bike blessing at 3:30 p.m., an open house and festival at 4 p.m. and a group ride to Carillon Historical Park and back at 5:30 p.m.

The public is invited to Friday’s events, which also will include a farmer’s market, games, raffles and UD’s RiverMobile, said Melissa Longino, director of campus recreation.

The new center will offer outdoor equipment rental and instructional clinics on topics such as camping and boating techniques to the UD community, Longino said. In the future it will also lead daylong and extended trips to places like Hocking Hills, she said.

The bike giveaway is part of a larger initiative by UD to reduce the campus’ carbon footprint and create a bike-friendly atmosphere. It also aims to better connect students with the region’s 330 miles of bike trails, including a new trail through campus that opened in July. Male students will get a Linus Roadster Sport and female students will get a Linus Dutchi 3. Both will be equipped with three-speed shifters and rear carrying racks. The bikes retail at $655 and $665.

The campaign also builds on UD’s bike sharing program that was launched two years ago. Last year, students checked out the bikes 3,000 times.

Wittenberg University in Springfield and Antioch College in Yellow Springs also have bike sharing programs, but no area college has given away bikes before.

Wittenberg has nine bikes that students can reserve online. The program was started last year with a federal highway grant to promote sustainability and better connect students with the city, said Jon Duraj, associate dean of students.

Antioch’s program was created last fall by students and this year will offer 30 crimson-colored bikes that staff and students can use on campus or around town, said spokeswoman Nicole Wroten-Craw.

“The students volunteered to run this bike program. They were looking at new and better ways of promoting health on campus,” she said.

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