August 23, 2016
Purdue Profiles: Aaron Madrid
Aaron Madrid, bicycle operations coordinator at Purdue, has been a lifelong cyclist. He uses knowledge gained through experiences on the road to coordinate the bike sharing program, manage abandoned bikes on campus and work toward making Purdue a truly bicycle-friendly campus.
What made you want to work as the bicycle operations coordinator?
I’ve loved riding bikes for a long time. Growing up, my brother raced BMX bikes and got pretty good before giving it up to pursue a passion for growing avocados. My dad has owned and operated a road construction business my entire life. As a result, I’ve had a tremendous amount of experience over the years with every aspect of road construction projects. I worked on planning and budgeting and had to master various federal and state standards. The job at Purdue offered me a chance to merge my professional experiences with my passions for bicycles and this community. Purdue has the highest concentration of people riding bikes in the area but also has the most work to do. I believe that this position offers me a chance to not only do what I love on a daily basis, but also bring some real, positive change.
What is the bike share program?
The bike share program offers community members the ability to borrow a bike from one of our 13 stations on campus. The bikes can be used for a few hours at a time in return for a small fee. Zagster, the vendor we work with to provide this service, employs local people to maintain the bikes and make sure they end up where they are supposed to be. It’s a great way to get your hands on a bike without having to invest in one that you would have to maintain and store. It also is the best way to get around campus, especially with all of the construction.
What do you see/hope for in the future of the bike program at Purdue?
My goal is to form partnerships that will allow us to expand the bike share program both on campus and off. Our adoption rate has been incredible. Our vendor tells us that our users are taking twice as many trips on average as any of their 140 or more other programs. Once the State Street project is completed, I see bicycling exploding as the preferred means of transportation back and forth across the river, and all throughout Purdue and West Lafayette.
The biggest challenge to me is that when you talk about bikes at Purdue, everyone has a story about that time a person on a bicycle hit that person walking on the sidewalk or how they all think bicyclists run stop signs and red lights. I want to stop that by helping implement infrastructure that enables our cyclists to more easily abide by the rules of the road. I believe the State Street Project, combined with our Integrated Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Plan, will help do just that. I want to create a culture on campus that celebrates bicycles.
Could the program reach beyond the campus?
One project I got to work on right away was the expansion of our bike share program into the surrounding off-campus community. Shortly after I took my position with Purdue, both Mayor John Dennis and Mayor Tony Roswarski reached out to learn about the bike share program and how we could work together to bring it to the community. After a lot of work and discussion, I’m excited to say that this August we will be partnering with both cities in expanding our program. The expansion includes three more stations and 15 additional bikes in both Lafayette and West Lafayette. We also will be adding 20 bikes to our on-campus system to address some of those early concerns with users not being able to find a bike when they needed it. By the end of August, our bike share program will contain 20 stations and 120 bikes.
I also recently became a league certified instructor with the League of American Bicyclists thanks to a professional education grant from APSAC. While this will assist me primarily with offering various bicycle educational classes for our campus community, I’m excited that we can offer this service to those off campus as well. It seems fitting that a top-notch education is a service we could offer to our surrounding community, and I’m excited by the prospect of being the one who can do it.
Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325, firstname.lastname@example.org