What better time to dust off the old two-wheeler than the thawing warmth of Michigan spring? With bikini season coming up and healthy living on everyone’s mind – let alone those gas prices! They will continue to rise and your body doesn’t exercise itself.
Does your bike more closely resemble a rusty heap than a functioning vehicle? Don’t have a bike or know what to do with one? Well, a small, but vibrant, community right here on campus is ready and excited to help.
Started by Professor Chris Mayda’s first Sustainability course in the fall of 2008, Bikes EMU began with big dreams. A small group of dedicated students worked together to share knowledge, began collecting donated bikes and started to develop a web presence. The website features a neat savings calculator that adds up the money saved by riding a bicycle instead of driving cars. The students envisioned a campus wide bike-sharing program, which has yet to come to fruition.
More than 80 bikes were donated and are stored in the basement of the otherwise empty Jones Hall.
Though the original core of students has since graduated, through the steadfast support from Professor Mayda, the organization has survived.
Common Cycle, a bike maintenance and education support group based in Ann Arbor, got involved through a meeting of the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition.
The goals of Common Cycle fit just right with those of Bikes EMU. The idea is to learn from each other while fixing up bicycles. Here on campus, the donated bikes have created an awesome opportunity. Every other Sunday, there meets a combination of Eastern students and those referenced from Common Cycle, who trade knowledge and work toward the satisfaction of a well-tuned, refurbished bicycle.
Most of the bikes donated were in sad shape, the majority of which are used for parts, while the remaining prospects are interchanged to create custom working vehicles.
Eric Jankowski from Common Cycle said it’s normal for most donated bikes to be in bad condition: “About 10 percent are worth trying to save and the rest should be recycled.”
Common Cycle members estimated approximately 10 bikes being shined up to safely rideable condition, which is more than 10 percent.
Jankowski enjoys Sunday afternoons at Eastern and points out the stupendous benefits of the space: “The EMU partnership was perfect…we get useful work done on the abandoned bikes while also giving new mechanics hands-on experience.”
The services of Bikes EMU are free of charge, and with the surplus of options, no need to worry about breaking anything. The tools are there – with four stands and extra everything – as well as many hands and minds to engage with and learn alongside.
The student arm of the organization is run by Ben Cox, a student with a passion for bikes that takes many shapes – racing, riding and fixing. Hoping to create a little more buzz among fellow students, the goal is to make bicyclists more visible on campus and encourage others to bring theirs out to share and learn.
Bikes EMU is in incubator mode right now, just waiting for more and more interested students to show up and try their hand. Learning Beyond the Classroom credit is available for Bikes EMU participants.
This group is a key part of creating a nourishing, self-reliant and low-energy consciousness here on Eastern’s campus as well as across all spheres of life. Alternative means of transportation are a fantastic way to live for the future.
For more information or to sign up for meeting dates, contact Mayda or Cox. Check out Common Cycle on the web and think about what you can do to help yourself this season. Sit in traffic then idle waiting for a parking spot? Or speed around campus in your newly mastered, two-wheel lean machine?