SpokesCouncil offers free bike service at Student Union
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 16, 2012 15:09
UCF has a huge campus and many people travel from class to class on bicycle. But what happens when a chain snaps or a tire goes flat? The Student Union has the answer: a free bicycle repair service for all students.
Starting this semester, bike mechanics will be stationed outside the Student Union to help students with any bicycle repairs they need. The mechanics are available Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Some of the repairs the mechanics provide include adjusting brakes, filling tires with air, swapping inner tubes and lubricating bike chains. The mechanics will even replace parts, provided the student brings them.
The bike repair service is the result of a partnership between the Student Union and the bicycle advocacy club, SpokesCouncil.
“We’ve always been doing bike repairs,” said head mechanic and SpokesCouncil member Brian Blackman. “The main focus was to provide tools and knowledge for people, but the bike repair service now is strictly for repairs. You bring it and we’ll fix it.”
SpokesCouncil approached the Student Government Association proposing the free bike mechanic service, offering to volunteer its members as mechanics.
“SpokesCouncil started the idea of a repair shop and they went to the [SGA] Senate,” Rick Falco, assistant director of the Student Union, said. “Basically they wrote a referendum that said SGA [was] in full support of this happening, but they couldn’t find the location for it.”
SpokesCouncil set out to find a location for the mechanics to set up shop and the Student Union was proposed.
SpokesCouncil started its volunteer bike mechanic service in spring 2011 and Falco said the service was successful. That success led to the Student Union requesting money from SGA to fully fund and operate the bike mechanic service.
“It’s obviously a service that students need,” Falco said. “The next step to make this sustainable was to actually start paying people to do it, so we got that approved in our budget last December and this semester started the new fiscal year.”
SGA provided $10,000 for the fiscal year to fund the service, all of which goes to the mechanics. The Student Union hopes this service will grow. A possibility in the future is a permanent shop where the mechanics can work.
“We would love to see, and the guys who started the program, Brian being one of them, would love to see, like, a permanent structure,” Falco said. “Of course that gets very expensive so it’s kind of one of those things where you need to build the program, build the foundation and eventually build the funding to be able to do something like that.”
The bike repair service is a welcome sight for students like Blair Gaston.
“I actually live on campus, so I pretty much ride my bike everywhere,” said Gaston, a freshman health science major. “Luckily my bike’s pretty new and I haven’t had to fix anything yet. But if it’s free, I’m definitely gonna go there when something goes wrong.”