JILLIAN SCHULZ • [email protected] • Two SJU students recently received a $16,000 grant from Stearns County to launch an app allowing students to rent bikes at CSB/SJU with their cell phones.

JILLIAN SCHULZ • [email protected] • Junior Zach Kennedy (left) and sophomore Friedrich Odermann (right).

By Sierra Lammi
[email protected]

A few bike enthusiasts are sharing their love for cycling with CSB/SJU.
Recently, two SJU sophomores started a new program called Johnnie Bennie Bikes, which provides students, faculty and staff an easier way to rent bikes.

Now, instead of checking bikes out at the Haehn Campus Center (HCC) or Outdoor Leadership Center (OLC), students can download an app called
‘Movatic’ from the App Store and join the group Johnnie Bennie Bikes to rent bikes with the touch of a button.

Students can then return the bikes to a designated rack on either campus. If a CSB student rents a bike from the OLC they do not need to bike back to SJU to return it; it can simply be left at the assigned bike rack on the CSB campus, and another student can use it.

The Johnnie Bennie Bikes program is part of the OLC, and they will host clinics about how to use the app in this program. Additionally, there will be informational videos created about how to use this app as a resource for students.

SJU junior Zach Kennedy and SJU sophomore Friedrich Odermann are the students who started this program. They are both interested in social entrepreneurship, and so they took their love of cycling and created an idea that would extend that culture to the wider CSB/SJU community.

“We noticed something missing on campus, and one of those things was a bike culture,” Kennedy said. “We noticed that St. John’s and St. Ben’s could benefit from a program such as the one used in the cities.”

The program was funded by a grant from Stearns County.

Kennedy said that members of the Senate and several faculty members played a part in acquiring the money.

“We were able to make this possible through a lot of hard work and cooperation amongst the school,” Kennedy said.

Matt Lindstrom, a professor of political science at CSB/SJU and director of the
McCarthy Center, was one of the faculty members who helped get the grant to fund this program.

“Writing the grant was a positive experience for all of us and positively benefits the CSB/SJU community for years to come,” Lindstrom said via email. “The $16,000 grant is a long-term investment in our community’s environmental sustainability and public health.”

Both Kennedy and Odermann hope that students find use for these bikes, and that this new way of renting them increases accessibility for students, especially for students out of state who might not have access to bikes.

“From riding for exercise, enjoying nature, strolling with friends, biking between campuses or heading to the grocery store, all of these are examples of what students can make of these bikes,” Odermann said.

Kennedy and Odermann hope that as students use the bikes more, they will be able to expand their program by increasing the number of bikes available and having more racks in different locations for students to check out the bikes.

“We will keep a keen eye on the statistics surrounding student usage so that we can maximize its effectiveness,” Kennedy said.

The bikes are ready for use now, but due to the “good old Minnesota winter,” students may not be able fully to use them until next semester.

“If the weather changes and we are graced with some warmer temperatures, you should expect to see some flashy bikes rolling around St. John’s and St. Ben’s soon,” Kennedy said.