Campus / News / April 27, 2011

Bikes offer challenges, opportunity

In the spring of 2009, students who were interested in opening a bike shed on campus used $2,500 from the Green Fee to purchase 16 bikes. This past year, sophomores Firas Suqi and Miles Reisbach have begun to revive what they are now calling Bike Club, though not without obstacles.

When Suqi eventually tracked down the key for the bike shed, which is located next to the Knox Community Garden at the corner of West St. and 1st St., he was not exactly happy with what he found.

“The 16 bikes that were ordered in 2008 or 2009, there were like four of them left. They look like they had been hit by trucks,” Suqi said.

After finding how few bikes were left, Suqi started searching for ways to get more bikes that would be available for student use. He and Reisbach have been slowly moving some bikes to the bike shed from the basement of Post Hall, where Campus Safety stores bikes they find left on campus in the summer, some of which have been sitting in Post Hall’s basement for years.

“We rented out 10 bikes two weeks ago … [and] one person turned their bike back in,” Suqi said. “There’s a lot of trust issues there.”

He also said that while there has been a huge interest in the bike shed being functional again and that they do rentals every two weeks so more people have a chance to use a bike, there is “no cooperation from students.”

Reisbach agreed.

“Something needs to change,” Reisbach said. “We want to be as open and accessible as possible.”

While Bike Club’s main two members are Suqi and Reisbach, they did say that many people show up Saturday afternoons (typically when they work at the bike shed) but that most of them are not patient enough to wait for a bike, even if the wait is only 20 minutes.

So far this year, Suqi and Reisbach have spent most of their time and effort renovating the shed, putting in storage units and hooks on the ceiling so they can have more space for new bicycles and hopefully new tools as well. While their budget is currently only $300 a term, they are going to apply for an annual budget of $5,000.

“It takes a lot of dedication to start something like this,” Suqi said. “But we also need dedication from the students. We’re struggling.”

For Reisbach, who has a long-term vision of turning the shed into more of a bike co-op, the ideal Knox campus would be one where all students “have a bike … and everyone knowing basic bike maintenance. We hope to make Knox a more bike-savvy place.”

Annie Zak

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