At the end of a sunny last day of the week, a line of students are waiting at the yellow box to receive a bike for the weekend. Two women arrive to bring the bikes back. Students start to smile and get excited. As soon as the first student of the line left with his new rented bike, some more arrived.
Matei Geanina is the communication & PR coordinator of Green Revolution. The NGO is the first in Romania which has the goal to make cities green with long-terms project, such as bike renting. Five years ago, the NGO came up with the idea of bike-renting for students.
“StudentObike started in 2011 in Bucharest, where we have 3 bike sharing centers, and then we extended to Cluj”, he said.
The bike-renting in Cluj is open from September to November, and started again in the beginning May, until end of June.
StudentoBike follows the concept already famous in the biggest cities of Western Europe. In Brussels, Villo suggests many automatic parking spots for bikes, same in Paris with their Velib (both names come from “Vélo” which means bicycle in French). StudentoBike is also located in Brașov, Iași and recently in Ploiești, mostly on university campuses.
“We want to encourage young people to adopt environmentally responsible behavior, to respect the city in which they live in and facilitate their transport to university courses.”, Geanina said. “Also, we decided that this program will be free for students because it’s well known that students don’t have much money to spend, if they have no job”
It is easy to rent a bike. Any students can rent, no matter which university they are attending. They only need to give their ID as a guarantee, and to fill in a form in Romanian. The employees also help them in English as well.
Andrei Pricope is the main employee of Studentobike in Hașdeu Campus.
“There are some students who ask to rent a bike quickly and give it back a couple hour later”, he said.
According to Pricope, the main reason for students to rent a bike is to go shopping, to the market or to Polus Center, or also to go to their university. Pricope said the bikes are practical to go shopping with their basket in front of the handlebar.
Students can also ask for a lock. Nevertheless, some lock keys were lost. Today, the employee gives locks only when they are still available. When asking for any other trouble, Pricope answered:
“Lock keys, flat tires, that’s all”
As a full-time employee, Pricope also repairs the bikes, with the help of his colleague who works part time. When a customer is coming, they always talk in a friendly way.
“I like the people, to talk to them.” He said, “I have a really good time”.