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A fleet of green machines

By Sarah Meyer '08
June 5, 2008

"When working on environmental issues, I think it is important to find common ground that we all share," Katie Godfrey '08 says while explaining the deeply held belief that prompted her to help start a "Green Bike" program on the St. Olaf campus.

The program features a fleet of bicycles that will be scattered across campus for use by members of the campus community. The goal is to reduce the number of times people get in their cars for trips across campus or into Northfield.

"Being able to use free campus bikes is something that almost everyone is attracted to," Godfrey says. "By finding this common ground, we are able to unite people and address important environmental and social issues at the same time."

The idea for a campus bike program began in Professor of History James Farrell's Campus Ecology class. Dan Borek '07, co-founder of St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works (STOGROW) -- the student-run organic garden -- introduced the idea to his classmates, and Godfrey quickly got on board. She wasn't the only one. St. Olaf Public Safety, as well as alumni, staff and faculty, donated 50 bicycles as well as an assortment of helmets and locks. Funding from student organizations and a Finstad Entrepreneurial Grant has enabled program organizers to pay for repairs, purchase additional locks and give the bikes their signature green coat of paint.

The program got up and running this spring and will function on the honor system. Bikes will be scattered about campus, unlocked, for all members of the St. Olaf community to use. People are simply asked to sign a waiver at the front desk in Buntrock Commons before they use a bike. Godfrey hopes that even more bicycles will be available this fall and that a club will be established to maintain them.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or