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Students barter for bikes to reduce carbon footprint
By Gabrielle Beacken
Students were encouraged to shift from their cars to bikes on Wednesday, April 19, at the Bonner Institute’s and the Environmental Club’s second annual Bike Sale on Green Lawn. The event was part of Bonner Scholars’ Earth Week and was sponsored by the Environmental Club’s TCNJ Unplugged initiative.
The bikes were donated by the Boys & Girls Club Bike Exchange of Trenton and are fixed up by Bonner Scholars, with help from the shop’s volunteers, to ensure that the bikes are safe to ride.
Bonner Scholars then bring the bikes to campus to sell at a reduced cost to students. The shop itself hosts a similar program where fixed up bikes are sold at a reduced cost to the Ewing and Trenton, N.J., communities.
“This is really good for the Trenton and Ewing communities because it provides a means of transportation for people who can’t afford cars to get to work, and it gives them a way to exercise,” said Claire Paul, an Environment Division Bonner Scholar and a sophomore biology major.
The sale was put together by the Bonner Scholar Environment Division, one of the larger divisions among the Bonner Institute. The division works with the President’s Climate Commitment Committee, known as PC3, to work on carbon-reducing initiatives on the College’s campus, according to Paul who is also the site leader for PC3.
“Most people who live off campus live two miles away and still drive to campus. Moreover, they drive by themselves and don’t carpool,” said Allie Davanzo, an Environment Division Bonner Scholar and a freshman public health major. “We’re releasing a lot of emissions into the atmosphere. By selling these bikes, we can reduce our carbon footprint and promote sustainable transportation.”
A PC3 study that broke down the College’s campus by percentage of carbon emission indicated that the second biggest source of emissions comes from cars commuting to campus. If more students were willing to either walk or bike to campus, the College could reduce its carbon emissions by 20 percent, according to the same source.
While students may recognize that driving a bike to campus is more environmentally friendly than driving a car, one concern for students is the safety component of riding a bike to campus, especially on main roads.
Recognizing this concern, the Bonner Environment Division paired up with the Ewing Green Team, a local organization promoting sustainability, to kickstart a bike routes project. To help create a bike route to campus, Bonner students surveyed each neighborhood and main road of Ewing and took note of each potential path and obstacle.
“We’re working right now to try to create more bikes lanes and to make Ewing a more bikeable town,” Paul said. “There are ways to bike in Ewing, you just have to find the paths.”
In addition to the Bonner Scholars’ efforts, according to the College’s 2016 Climate Action Plan, the College has increased its spending on bike racks by 80 percent and is continuing their endeavor to connect existing bike paths in the Lawrence Hopewell Trail and Mercer County, N.J., “to create a seamless network of bike routes to and from the campus.”
The Bonner Environment Division often works with other environmental organizations on campus partnered with PC3. To promote Earth Week, the Bonner team has been working closely with the College’s Environmental Club, which also ran TCNJ Unplugged this past week.
In addition to bike sales, Bonner Scholars engage in a multitude of activities, Davanzo said. These include Meals on Wheels, where students go to homebound citizens in Trenton five days a week; thrift projects, where upcycled clothes are sold on campus and the proceeds are donated to the Trenton Rescue Mission and working in the College’s garden, where students collect 900 pounds of fresh produce each year that is donated to food desserts, including Trenton.
This year’s bike sale sold six bikes and two bike locks while also repairing two bikes. The total revenue of this year’s endeavor was $288, but the total revenue for all bike sales within the past year was $1,592. This includes two bike sales in the Spring 2017 semester, one in the Fall 2016 semester and one in the Spring 2016 semester, according to Paul. All proceeds from the sales are contributed toward the Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County.