By: Rieneke Helder | December 15, 2021
Redeemer’s safe campus is a major draw for prospective students. Not only have they implemented new 24/7 security services, but our campus is located in a fairly remote location, providing relative safety from outside parties. This comes at a slight cost, however: the remote location of Redeemer’s campus leads to a slight inconvenience when it comes to getting anywhere off-campus.
The strip malls on Golf Links Road are a 24-minute walk from campus, according to Google Maps. Naturally, there are limited stores within walking distance, but several restaurants, supermarkets, and shopping outlets are easily accessible in this way. In addition, there are resources available to Redeemer students to get off campus in other ways.
Kennan Benjamins is an alumni who, during his time as Student Senate President, was passionate about finding a way for students to get off campus in ways that are beneficial to everyone involved. He says that the Student Senate’s role is to ask the questions, “Where are the best places for students to be, and what’s the best way to get them there?” This led him to the idea of the bike library, a method of transportation that promotes physical exercise and is free of cost to students.
The bike library, in theory, is designed so that students can reserve a bike for their preferred time slot. This program serves to address the demand for methods of transportation that get students to places that are more than a short walk away, and comes out of conversations that Benjamins had during his time at Redeemer surrounding the bus system. He found that students at Redeemer are seen as dependent on either the bus pass or personal vehicles. For him, the bike library is a way of liberating the student body from the bus system. As much as the bus system is a useful resource for Redeemer students, there should be another way to get around.
It took a few years for this project to get off the ground. Last year, O’Dessa Dixon was hired to run the project and do all of the behind-the-scenes work to make Benjamins’s dream a reality. The bike racks in front of the Academic Building have been stocked with ten bikes purchased from New Hope Community Bikes, a local business that is working to “offer safe cycling education, provide access to affordable transportation, and foster a rich and inclusive cycling community,” as they explain on their website.
New Hope also worked with Dixon to determine what would need to be purchased for this program to work, organizing the system of helmets, baskets, bike locks, and bikes that students can now take advantage of for free. This collaboration is just one of the ways that the bike library helps connect Redeemer and its students to organizations and individuals in our community.
Not only did Dixon team up with New Hope, but several groups at Redeemer were involved. IT developed an entire software for coordinating the bike rentals, much of the program is run through Athletics, and Campus Services helped Dixon in getting the lockers where bike helmets, locks, and sanitation kits are stored.
As we near the end of the first semester of the bike library’s existence, Dixon reports that there have been around fifteen rentals since the program was started. These rentals represent hours and hours of hard work coming to fruition, but one has to ask: why aren’t there more students taking advantage of this free resource?
Those who have been supporters of the bike library from the start see the beauty that it can bring to Redeemer’s campus. In addition to promoting physical activity, the bike library might be a solution for students uncomfortable with riding public transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those who are still keen on riding the bus these days, there is good news: as part of student fees, every Redeemer student receives a bus pass that covers all use of the Hamilton Street Rail services for the whole school year. Despite the fact that it undoubtedly takes longer to get places when relying on buses that have to make frequent stops, there is much to be gained with a single tap of one’s Presto card.
Leaving campus and heading out of the infamous “Redeemer bubble” is not only a good idea, but it can be essential for the mental, physical, and spiritual health of Redeemer students. Not only are students accessing businesses and resources that can’t be found on campus, they are connecting Redeemer to its neighbourhood and developing relationships with people who are different from the community that might be found on campus.
Deedz is a club made up of students passionate about building relationships with people living on the streets or in urbanized areas in downtown Hamilton. This club frequently uses their bus passes in a way that reflects much of what is at the heart of the bike library and, essentially, is the reason why Redeemer has a bus pass at all. Not only is Deedz a way for students to broaden their worldview and hear stories of faithfulness and resilience from fellow citizens of Hamilton every Friday night, but students also familiarize themselves with the city and gain its trust towards Redeemer.
There’s a common theme running through transportation resources that are available to students: we aren’t fully taking advantage of them. Similar to the bike library, there are far less uses of bus passes than Redeemer students pay for. Every student is paying $199.35 per year to use the bus as often as they’d like, yet most students rarely touch their Prestos. During Benjamins’ time as a student, Redeemer students were putting a collective $103,000 towards bus passes. At the same time, Presto reported to us that Redeemer was using approximately $50,000 of that total.
This begs the same question as the bike library: why aren’t we making use of these services?
It seems to be a matter of inconvenience. Although hopping on a bus instead of getting in a personal car to head down the mountain saves money, students tend to drive their own vehicles before getting on a bus. The amount of time it takes to bus somewhere, especially locations that are down the mountain, doesn’t seem to be worth it.
Despite the general consensus on campus that bussing is the inferior choice to driving or simply not leaving campus often, there are many advocates on campus for bussing.
One student commented that, “If you actually take time, you can participate in little acts of community by taking the bus. You see people consistently and get to know them. In addition, you get to know the places where the bus stops and where people get on and off—and there’s nothing wrong with knowing your place, is there?”
They continued, “We live in a time where things are handed to us. It’s easy to get used to being given things like a car ride to church or a quick Shoppers run when something like bussing—or even walking—will be so much better for ourselves, physically and mentally, and for our environment. It’s important for us to be reminded that we aren’t going to be handed everything in life. In fact, it’s good to be reliant and to take things slowly. It’s a cliché, but smelling the roses is a beautiful thing. Bussing is an easy way to do that—not to mention the fact that we are already paying for it!”
There is beauty in inconvenience. If choosing the more cumbersome route to help the wellbeing of yourself, as well as your environment and your community, also means you are choosing to use what you have already paid for, then students are encouraged to make the choice to use their bus passes and the bike library whenever possible.