Montevallo has launched a city-wide bike-share program that organizers believe is the only one of its type in Alabama. The new ValloCycle program held a launch ceremony Oct. 13 as part of the University of Montevallo’s Founders’ Day celebration, which had a sustainability theme.
The purpose of ValloCycle is to provide low-cost transportation for Montevallo residents, including college students, while reducing carbon emissions, reducing car traffic and promoting physical activity, according to a news release from Courtney Bennett and Aaron Traywick, UM students who work with the program. Over 70 new and used bikes were donated by businesses and Montevallo residents.
The idea for ValloCycle came from a group of UM students taking environmental studies classes, according to Traywick. The students were able to get help from the administration and other university departments, as well as various city agencies.
“Last year, when (these students) came into my office with a petition, it got me thinking,” university President John W. Stewart III told Christine Boatwright at the Shelby County Reporter Oct. 14. “I’m a preservationist, but sometimes the business of the university gets in the way and I need to be reminded of that. This is leadership.”
Hollie C. Cost, a UM professor, Montevallo City Council member and ValloCycle project director, told Boatwright the program is a “perfect example” of what’s possible when the university and city work together.
While Traywick said that the UM community, including administrators, is very open to sustainability, he was pleasantly surprised the school used Founder’s Day, one of its biggest fundraising opportunities, to focus on student efforts in sustainability.
“For them to highlight all of our projects, and specifically the students that made them happen, was unexpected, especially considering that some projects have encountered very negative administrative whiplash in the past,” Trawick told Weld Local in an email, citing as an example some delays in hooking up solar panels at a campus observatory to the Alabama Power grid.
There are more green projects in the offing for Montevallo, according to Trawick. “We’ve got the state of Alabama’s first Green Fund now, over $30,000 of student funds that can only be used for sustainability projects specifically chosen by a student-majority committee,” he says. According to the university’s web site, Montevallo is the first college in the state to have a green fund.
For more information, including fees, registration and bike check-out sites, go to www.vallocycle.com or call Montevallo City Hall at (205) 665.2555. ValloCycle also has a Facebook page.
Jesse Chambers is a contributing editor at Weld for Birmingham and contributing writer at B-Metro magazine. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.