Though many students will soon stow their bicycles away with the imminent arrival of winter, cyclists are getting one last hurrah as the University celebrates its first ever Bike Week.
Sponsored by the University’s Program in the Environment, the event began Monday and runs through Friday. The week is designed to educate the community about new bike repair stations on North and Central Campuses.
The University installed bike pumps at North Quad Residence Hall and Pierpont Commons, as well as a repair stand at the Central Campus Transportation Center on Oct. 29. The Bike Air Pumps and Fix-It Station project, launched this fall, funded the installations with a $10,000 grant from the University.
University President Mary Sue Coleman launched the Plant Blue Student Innovation Fund last fall, which will distribute $150,000 over a three-year period to large-scale sustainability projects, including biking programs.
In 2011, Coleman announced $50,000 of the fund was to be used for the Bike Air Pumps and Fix-it Station, the Reusable Containers Program, the Sustainable Food Kiosk and the University Campus Farm.
Arielle Fleisher, a Public Health graduate student and bike project leader, said she came up with the idea for Bike Week after she injured herself on a beam on the repair station shortly after it was installed and wanted to educate students about their use.
She added that Bike Week should help students and Ann Arbor residents use the installations properly.
“We don’t want to just put (station tools) on the ground and walk away,” Fleisher said. “The goal is to get people to really use these products and to use them well. They only are as good as they are used.”
On Tuesday, the University held a bicycle resource fair called Bike Fest at the Central Campus Transport Station. Student ambassadors at the event helped explain how to use the new stations and throughout the week more than 50 bike ambassadors will take shifts explaining their uses to passersby.
Fleisher said she hopes Bike Week will not only inform students on how to use the new installations, but also inspire them to advocate for other causes they believe in.
“This is your campus, and you can make changes on it and advocate things if you keep it going,” Fleisher said. “If you really keep the momentum going, this is a great way to get things done.”
University alum Andrew Bradburn volunteered to be a bike ambassador after moving back to Ann Arbor recently. He said he hopes the bike ambassadors will help students learn how to use the bike repair tools and pumps.
“People are seeing the stations, interested in them, and will touch the tools, but they don’t really know how to work it,” Bradburn said. “Just by being out here and volunteering our time to help fix bikes, pump tires and just be around the pumps will help. So when people swing by and ask questions, we will hopefully inform them how to use these stations properly.”
LSA senior Lauren Beriont, a fellow bike ambassador, said the project also promotes a bike-friendly campus.
“It’s just to get people outside and make it easier for people to pump their tires by letting them know that all these resources are around now,” Beriont said. “I think it’s bringing a lot of people excitement.”
Social work student Braden Latham-Jones, another bike ambassador, said he believes Bike Week will become an annual event.
“I think we’re looking to host something that’s annual, that’s regular, and that raises awareness about biking in general and commuting by bike as an opportunity so that bike-friendly campuses can be built,” Latham-Jones said. “It’s a part of a broader idea of encouraging bikers as opposed to cars as a means of transportation.”
Natural Resources and Environment graduate student Ryan Gourley went to the repair station at the C.C. Little bus stop after encountering difficulties with his bike’s gears. With the help of Bradburn, Gourley’s bike was up and running within a few minutes.
“It’s great to have these stands here, and it’s really great this week to have them manned with experts who can help you out and show you what you need to do,” Gourley said.