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Free bikes connect ASU students with local businesses

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TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

Arizona State University student Daniel Ruzi is like many on campus who rely on a bike to get around.

"I really needed a way to get around ASU. Walking sometimes not the best. Don't have a car," he said.

Kierstyn Greenberg, another ASU student, agrees.

"This campus is huge so it's a good way for me to get from my apartment to my classes, which is about a mile distance."

Ruzi and Greenberg are participating in a bike program that launched on the ASU campus this past spring. It's called FreeBike Project and it's already cruising to popularity.

"You definitely get a lot of looks because it's just something that's new, but I just explain it and a lot of people think it's a cool and unique idea," Ruzi said.

Scott Ferreira brought the idea to ASU. Businesses like the transportation company Lyft will sponsor a bike by paying for it and then advertising on it.

"Just like a typical billboard where you would go to one of the big billboard companies like CBS or Clear Channel you would just come to us and say 'hey, we would like a certain number of billboard spots.' Ours just happens to be mobile," Ferreira said.

In return, students get sleek, free bikes to get around. In exchange, they are required to post about their new wheels with pictures on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on a monthly basis.

"We have an online platform that keeps track of all the different hashtags that are used. Students have to do the @ and our company name and so we can monitor it through that and we just kind of check them off our system as they come in on a monthly basis," Ferreira added.

There are 25 of the bikes on the ASU campus right now, but Ferreira said student demand is so great, they're working with more businesses to bring in more bikes.

"Not only are they getting the brand visibility on campus, they're getting all the social media reach that they never really would have anticipated from a real world physical billboard."

The FreeBike Project is at 21 college campuses across the country and partners with a nonprofit that will send a bike to other countries like the Philippines for every bike FreeBike places on a campus.

Click FreeBike Project for more information.

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