New bike repair stands offer eco-friendly service

Kendra Mayer, Reporter

Northwestern students with bikes no longer have to venture off campus to fix a flat tire.

Repair stations are now available in front of Foster-Walker Complex and Norris University Center, providing students with a tire pump, pressure gauges and wrenches to make quick fixes to their bikes by themselves. Rob Whittier, director of sustainability, said the office spearheaded implementation of the stations in order to encourage students to bike more on campus.

The presence of repair stations also motivates students to reuse their older bikes instead of buying new ones, Whittier said.

“Students start abandoning their bikes … even if they just have a flat tire,”  Whittier said.

Whittier said the Office of Sustainability plans to install several more repair stations around campus, but they have not yet determined when or where.

The installation of the stations stems from discussions held by members of an Office of Sustainability committee at the beginning of last year. The lack of on-campus repair sites was brought up as an issue, Whittier said.

The stations won’t be the only options students have for on-campus repairs. A mobile bike repair shop called We Fix Bikes plans to offer its eco-friendly services on campus this academic year as well.

The shop will be located under The Arch every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-5 p.m. and can be easily spotted by its green and white awning.

Owned by Curtis Evans, We Fix Bikes has been stationed at NU intermittently since 1997. He said he brought the business to the campus because he saw student demand for bike repairs.

Evans said he sees people riding their bikes in the winter, so he plans to offer outdoor repairs even when it snows.
To use the service, students bring their bikes to the shop, and Evans will appraise what kind of fix is needed. Then, students either wait or leave their contact information if they plan on going elsewhere while the bike is repaired.

Weinberg sophomore Tina Vridhachalam said she brought her bike to We Fix Bikes for repairs after it fell on the ground. Vridhachalam said she had just bought her bike. She said her father heard of We Fix Bikes and told her to go.

“Other places are either too far away or more expensive than here,” she said.

Evans took only a short look at Vridhachalam’s bike before he directed her attention to the back wheel. Explaining what malfunctioned, Evans told her it would be a quick fix.

The mobile repair shop also gives students an alternate form of transportation. Evans said locals and students now have the ability to restore their broken bikes and use them in place of motor vehicles. He said he wanted to emphasize a sustainable model in his business.

Whittier said using bikes to travel around campus and Evanston is a convenient and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

“We have a great campus for cycling,” he said.

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