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An Ode To The Late-Night Spin Bike Joyride

Penn State Transportation Services recently made a move that I, as well as many others, have gone crazy for.

To combat CATA’s service reductions and the temporary elimination of certain bus routes, rentals for Spin e-bikes — new electric-assisted bikes across campus — are free to anyone from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and all day on Sundays.

This may not be a fair trade on paper, as most students would probably prefer to get on a bus during the cold fall and winter nights. However, I have absolutely fallen in love with the idea of using these bikes late at night, even if it’s just to take a joyride.

The sheer emptiness of campus on each weeknight makes taking a ride on one of these e-bikes that much more enjoyable. There are rarely any cars that you need to worry about, and the sidewalks are pretty empty, too. But this emptiness of campus makes you realize how noisy it can be during the day, providing an appreciation for a cold, peaceful night. It makes riding a serene, even therapeutic, experience.

Ultimately, not needing to worry about any people or cars also allows you to move as sporadically as you’d like. You want to take a random right turn? Do it. You want to go under the bridge that connects Osmond Lab and Davey Lab, even though there’s a “Do Not Enter” sign if you’re coming from the HUB? Go for it. Nothing stops you from building the route that you want to take with these free rides.

Not to worry my mom, but there’s something so cool about going fast with these bikes when there’s no one around, too. I took a free ride at night last week, and there was a point in my ride where I’d decided to go from the HUB all the way to west campus via Pollock Road as fast as I could, and there was something so freeing about it. Luckily, that’s significantly easier thanks to Spin bikes’ electric assistance, which can quickly get you north of 15 miles an hour. Not to mention, I bet I got some good exercise out of it.

There’s a sense of camaraderie that comes with riding one of these e-bikes. Chances are, when you’re riding at 11 p.m. or midnight, you’re not the only person just out riding for fun. Passing other people that are out for a quick night bike ride is just like when two bus drivers pass each other — everyone gives each other a quick nod or a quick wave. Everyone’s just out to have fun!

What’s more, you get to go anywhere you’d like within the zone for as long as you’d like during these free rides. I’ve only confined myself to campus for the most part, but you can go all the way from the intersection of West College Avenue and West Whitehall Road to the Interstate 99-Route 322 junction (sorry, Innovation Park).

Penn State Transportation Services says that this change will be in effect indefinitely, but there will likely come a day where this opportunity will cease to exist. So, what are you waiting for? Whether it’s late at night and you need to take a study break or it’s Sunday and you’re just looking for something to do, go for a ride! We’ll probably see you out there.

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About the Author

Michael Tauriello

Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering in May 2022. He served as a photographer, social media editor, and visual editor over the course of seven semesters. If you want to know what he's up to these days, shoot him an email at [email protected] or take a look at @michaelt._ on Instagram.

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