USO Okinawa Bike-Share Program Solves Troops' Local Transportation Issues
Friday, August 23, 2013
By Joseph Andrew Lee
There aren’t many convenient transportation
options for unaccompanied Marines and sailors stationed on the 400-square-mile
island of Okinawa.
“They can take the bus that travels from base to
base, they can take a [taxi], or they can try and figure out the local bus
system,” said Will Stanley, center manager at USO Camp Schwab. “Most of the
Marines don’t have cars or that much money to spend, so it can be a challenge
to get off base and see the local sights.”
Stanley, who was stationed on Okinawa during his
time as a Marine, understands the challenges Marines encounter on the island.
In 2012, he requested grant money from the USO to
start a bike-share program on Camp Schwab, where most of the unaccompanied
Marines stationed on the island live. Bikes are checked out for four hours at a
time, giving a Marine more than enough time to ride into town, do some
sightseeing, and come back.
USO volunteer and Marine Lance Cpl. Costel Outlaw
maintains the bicycles and oversees the program, which has grown from seven to
12 bikes in just one year. He says he’d like to expand the program to nearby
“We wanted to find a way for people to be able to
get out, have fun, but still be able to do that without having to walk
extremely long distances,” Outlaw wrote in an email.
“I personally decided to join this program
because the USO is my home away from home,” he wrote. “It is a great place to
go to when you are not at work and just want to relax. I actually prefer to be
there than in my own barracks room!”
With soaring summertime humidity, Outlaw stays busy keeping the bikes rust free and operational. He says the
program has gained so much popularity that some Marines who own bicycles have
donated those bikes to the USO as they rotate off the island.
“The word about the bikes have increased by quite
a bit,” Outlaw wrote, “mostly because the USO is something we all care about
here on Schwab, so we get a lot of support from the Marines stationed here.
What started out as a few new bikes has multiplied into a dozen or more box
bikes, street bikes, and mountain bikes. Most of them get used every day!”
Photo caption: The bike-share program instituted at USO Camp Schwab on Okinawa, Japan, helps troops travel locally for free. USO photo
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