FROM READERS: Bike Resource Center offers MU students free repairs

Thursday, October 24, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Volunteer mechanic Nathan Park assists and educates a fellow student in truing her tire with tools provided by the Environmental Leadership Office at MU.

MU senior Mary Harcourt helps manage the Bike Resource Center.

As one of four main projects put on by the Environmental Leadership Office in the Department of Student Life at Mizzou, the Bike Resource Center sets up shop every Friday outside of Ellis Library on Lowry Mall from 12-2pm, weather permitting. Recognizable by its appropriately green tent, bike trailer (all supplies are moved from the Student Center by bike power), and line of students waiting to get their bikes fixed, the BRC seeks to encourage and promote biking at Mizzou. Funded by a student fee dedicated to sustainability on campus, the program strives to not only fix students’ bikes for free, but to offer education on bike safety and encourage students to watch and learn as their bikes are being repaired.

By putting on the program, we hope to make biking a more affordable option for cash-strapped college students, who may be both unable to pay for regular maintenance and repairs (or getting their bikes working again after leaving them outside all winter), or unable to make it to off-campus bike shops. Having your sole mode of transportation out of repair can lead to quite a dilemma: you cannot get to the bike shop until your bike is fixed; and you cannot get it fixed until you can get to the bike shop. Therefore, for two hours every week, we bring convenient, free bike repair directly to students.

While we do not distribute parts, a number of basic repairs can be diagnosed and fixed by our group of volunteer mechanics, several of whom learned the ins and outs of bike repair at our very own BRC. At this point, we have seen everything from the mysterious noise your bike is making to a student bringing us a disassembled bike in a box, so do not feel shy about bringing by all of your bike problems, big or small. At the very least, we can tell you the exact nature of your problem and give a recommendation for a local bike shop, allowing students to make more informed decisions when seeking repairs elsewhere. Additionally, students knowledgeable about bike repair or interested in learning are always welcome to fill out the volunteer application on our website and come help out.

Beyond keeping the bikes of MU in top condition, another one of our main goals is ensuring that the students riding them stay in similarly top shape. We do that by educating students about the importance of bike safety. In the minds of most students, bikes exist in a somewhat hazy place between pedestrians and cars, meaning there is no doubt that education on bike laws and regulations are much needed on MU’s campus. One of the main messages that we try to get across is that bikes have all the same rights, as well as all the same responsibilities, as cars, and that you are operating a vehicle while biking. Basic changes such as proper hand signal use and stopping at stop signs could help to ensure the prevention of accidents and that roads can be shared amicably among pedestrians, cyclists, and cars.

For more information, visit our website. Due to its funding by student fees, the BRC is only open to MU students, but other members of the community interested in education on bike safety and learning about maintenance are encouraged to check out classes offered by Columbia Parks and Recreation (see pages 32 and 33).

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how.

Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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