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Pirate Bikes offer a greener way to travel

Karen Mizelle with ECU Parking and Transportation Services checks out several of the bikes available through the new Pirate Bikes program on campus.
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Sept. 11, 2009)   —   A new program through East Carolina University’s Parking & Transportation Services is putting abandoned bikes back on the streets.

“Pirate Bikes” offers refurbished bikes to members of the ECU campus to use for a semester. Abandoned bicycles on campus, after a waiting period, become property of Parking & Transportation Services.

Looking for a way to put those bikes to good use led the staff to launch Pirate Bikes in mid-September, said Karen Mizelle, interim assistant director with Parking & Transportation Services.

Painted purple and gold (of course), the bikes and locks can be borrowed from Parking & Transportation Services for a semester.  Faculty, staff and students are eligible to participate and must sign a waiver. If the bike is not returned in a ride-able condition, then the participant will be charged $50.

“We want to promote greener transportation on campus,” Mizelle said. “If we can get more people to ride bikes, then that means less cars on core campus.”

The program has 15 bikes with 9 bikes having been already checked out for the semester to eight students and one faculty member.

Rob Wall with Parking & Transportation has completed the refurbishing of the bikes. Some only need a new tube in the tires, while other bikes need much more work.

Every bike is checked to make sure the tires will hold air, the brakes work, gears work or are in a position that allows the bike to be ridden, the chain isn’t rusted, the rims aren’t bent, and the seat is still there and ride-able.

“There was quite a bit of work on some of them to make sure they were safe to be ridden,” Wall said, who seemed to enjoy working on the bikes on weekends. “I’m technically inclined. I like figuring out how things work.”

Mizelle admitted the bikes’ paint jobs are more eye-catching than pretty. “We didn’t paint them to be beautiful,” she said. “We wanted them to be easily identifiable as part of the Pirate Bikes program.”

Parking & Transportation Services paid for the costs of getting the bikes back ready for the road – mainly new inner tubes for the tires and the paint. Five bikes were donated to the program.

 “A student, staff or faculty member who doesn’t know if they would use a bike on campus can try this out for a semester,” Mizelle said.

The Pirate Bikes program would like to expand in the future and allow short-term bike use, such as picking up a bike at College Hill and riding it to the Rivers Building. However, the problem has been how to secure the bikes at different locations across campus to make them available to participants but not thieves.

“We want this to be a campus-wide project. We encourage people to donate their bikes, if they no longer use them, and if someone has an idea on how to improve the program, we’d love to hear it,” Mizelle said.

If you’re interested in using a Pirate Bike, contact Parking & Transportation Services at 328-6294 or e-mail


ECU senior Amy McCutcheon tries out one of the refurbished Pirate Bikes available to faculty, staff and students through a new program on campus.
ECU senior Amy McCutcheon tries out one of the refurbished Pirate Bikes available to faculty, staff and students through a new program on campus.


Contact: Jeannine Manning Hutson | 252-328-1164