How have the many bikers across the Taylor University Campus kept their bikes safe and in working condition?
A program called Upcycle has been working to provide bike assistance, rentals, and other bike-related services to the Taylor community for several years now.
About 12 years ago professor of geology and environmental science at Taylor, Michael Guebert, began collecting and fixing up the bikes that were abandoned at the end of the school year in May.
Guebert later received permission to refurbish the garage right next to the Honor’s Lodge that he named the Bike Kitchen, and the Upcycle program was born. His goal for the Upcycle program was to encourage students to come to the Bike Kitchen and either work on their bikes by themselves or receive assistance from him or one of his volunteers.
Upcycle consists of three main parts: The Bike Kitchen, bike rentals and Taylor Taxis.
At the Bike Kitchen, Guebert and his volunteers help students with what he calls, “The ABCs of bikes” which stands for air, breaks and chains. Students struggling with any of these three things can easily come into the Bike Kitchen and get their bike back to working condition.
Guebert believes that encouraging students to work on their own bicycles as opposed to a drop-off bike service will help them gain experience and learn from the process. Students can come in and fix their bikes free of charge.
“Taylor has a heightened car dependency for their transportation on campus,” said Guebert said. “I’d like to advance the concept of a bicycle-friendly university that will engage people in more appropriate and healthy and environmentally friendly, sustainable transportation choices.”
To prevent bikes from getting stolen, Guebert strongly encourages student and staff bikers to lock their bikes. Any type of lock will do as long as it’s getting the job done.
He also stresses the importance of documenting bikes. When a person leaves their bike somewhere, all they have to do is take a picture of it. This way if the bike gets stolen, they have a picture that will help them locate the bike with more ease. If the person still cannot locate their bike, then going to campus police is a good idea.
Upcycle collected about 80 bikes this past July. Those who lost their bikes last year are welcome to contact Upcycle by sending an email to email@example.com. A detailed description or photo of the bicycle is strongly suggested.
Not all students have the opportunity to bring their bike with them to college, which is why a limited supply of bike rentals is also available through Upcycle. For just $20, Taylor students may rent a bicycle for the whole semester.
Senior Matt Wildman worked as the manager of the Bike Kitchen last year, repairing bicycles and overseeing volunteers. Wildman explained how working in the Bike Kitchen was a de-stressor for him and helped him get his mind off the craziness of schoolwork for a couple hours each day he worked. Wildman encourages students to simply know that the Bike Kitchen is there and to use it when needed.
Student volunteers in the Bike Kitchen are always needed. Those who are interested in helping others fix bikes or who want to learn more about bikes should be sure to contact Michael Guebert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a result of COVID-19, the Taylor Taxis located outside various dorm buildings will be retracted. The purpose of Taylor Taxis was to provide free open access to shared-use bicycles. Guebert hopes to restart this service when possible and safe to do so.
Phil Grabowski, professor of sustainable development and environmental science, is also very passionate about biking. He encourages his students to bike because of the great health and environmental benefits of the activity.
“Small actions that you do every day really add up,” said Grabowski said. “If you bike instead of drive or just walk or skateboard, it’s like you saved a quarter cup of gasoline or something like that and it seems so tiny, but if everybody does that every day, it’s saving barrels and barrels of gasoline.”