Students, faculty and staff at the University of Calgary can now rent a brand new bike for as little as $10 a week, thanks to a new bike share program that launched Monday.

The pilot project has eight bikes featuring three speeds. After paying a $10 annual membership fee, two-day and seven-day rentals are available for $5 and $10, respectively, and come with a helmet, bell, front and rear light, and lock. 

The idea was born out of a class assignment given to fourth-year geography student Gavin Schneider, president of the university's bike share program.

"Rather than just talking about green initiatives and sustainability and trying to define those things in the classroom, the professor really wanted us to actually go out and start a project and try to make a difference," he said.

Gavin Schneider U of C

Gavin Schneider, president of the bike share program at the University of Calgary, says his study abroad experience in Europe helped inspire this new initiative. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Schneider studied abroad in Europe and said his experiences there exposed him to the convenience of bike sharing and rental programs available in most of the major cities he visited, he said.

"When I came back, it was just a bit of a disappointment that Calgary didn't have one."

He got the idea for the program in February last year, but it wasn't until late last year that he got the necessary funding.

The initial idea generated considerable interest, and roughly 60 people signed up to help with the project even before they had any bikes or funding, Schneider said.

Thanks to a nearly $10,000 sustainability fund grant from the Students' Union in December, the club was able to purchase eight bikes from The Bike Shop in downtown Calgary.

"We made sure that we got really high quality gear."

Schneider said the program is a great option for international students and those living in residence who don't own a vehicle but want to explore the city.

Depending on the uptake, he hopes to expand the program in the future.

"I think it's going to be huge," he said.

"We're going to have a couple hundred members by next year, I'm sure."

With files from Evelyne Asselin