Options limited as students look to protect bikes from snow


Ina Yang/Daily Senior Staffer

Bikes sit parked outside of Whole Foods, 1640 Chicago Ave. Despite the recent drop in temperatures, outdoor racks remain popular places to store bikes because free storage in campus buildings is limited.

Jordan Harrison, Reporter

When Bienen freshman Gordon Burkhart found out he couldn’t store his bicycle in Chapin Hall over Winter Break, he came up with a creative solution: He took the bike apart and stored the pieces in his room instead.
Burkhart, who once worked as a bike mechanic in San Diego, said there was a lack of free bicycle storage on campus during winter.

“I honestly don’t want to pay money for a service that I think Northwestern should just provide for students that don’t live in the area,” he said.

Burkhart said it took him about 20 minutes to take the bike apart and 30 minutes to put it back together again, and his community assistant told him he wasn’t technically breaking the rules.  He said he still uses the bike and now keeps it outside.

Some bikes are still left outdoors in the winter, as bike storage space is limited in campus residences, said Paul Riel, executive director of Residential Services. Indoor bike storage is available in Ayers College of Commerce and Industry, Bobb Hall, Communications Residential College, Kemper Hall  and Slivka Residential College, according to the Residential Services website.

“Most residential facilities are not designed for bike storage,” Riel said.  “A year or so ago, we actually set up a deal with BoxCo, which is an on-campus student organization, to offer bike storage programs to students for a fee.”
McCormick sophomore David Olodort, the CEO of BoxCo., said he thinks the $40 storage price, discounted from $50 for summer storage, is reasonable and said he has not gotten direct complaints about the cost. He also said he wants to do more marketing for BoxCo. to students who might want to use it.

“For us, it’s the idea of just providing that service for the students regardless of the revenue or the business experience,” Olodort said.

Weinberg freshman Evan Lee decided to store his bike with BoxCo. but said he wished he didn’t have to store it for the entire winter so he could still use it.

“It’s annoying to get from place to place,” Lee said. The shuttles aren’t the greatest, so it’s nice to have a bike. But there’s really no place to put your bike in the winter.”

Exposure to recent subzero temperatures may not be too harmful to outdoor bikes, said Gretchen Brauer, service manager of Wheel & Sprocket, 1027 Davis St. Snow, or any moisture, is more likely than cold to damage bikes and is especially harmful to chains, links and hinges, she said.

“The number one thing that gets affected is the chains,” Brauer said. “When moisture gets into the chains, it freezes the links up and causes corrosion inside the links. So, if a bike sits out all winter, the chain essentially is in rough shape when the the chain doesn’t get moved at all.  You go to ride it in the summer … and it won’t actually rotate around your gears.”

Brauer said she recommends putting covers or tarps on bikes stored outside to keep them dry.

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