The Gazette asked the Dal Bike Centre Society why it wants a levy increase. The increase would go from $0.50 to $1 per term for full-time students and introduce a fee of $0.50 per term for part-time students (this includes the summer term).
Why does the Bike Centre Society feels this increase is deserved? (Answer submitted by Kara Martin, Dal Bike Society President)
The Dalhousie Bike Society has been working hard to provide more transportation options for Dal students, staff and faculty. Since 2009, the Dal Bike Centre has been the product of a partnership between the Dalhousie Bike Society and a university staffer to assist with operations and management.
As of this year, the Dalhousie Bike Society is solely responsible for managing the Dal Bike Centre, while also running society events. We are a student-run service made possible by dedicated volunteers. Not only do we offer student services, but we are also an open workspace for community members. It is our mission to empower individuals so they feel confident riding a bicycle on the road and working on their own bikes.
Over the past year, we have been working towards improving accessibility by increasing our hours of operation; growing a learning environment; offering more group rides; and starting a workshop series for women, transgender and gender non-binary students. We are proud of the work we have accomplished, but it doesn’t stop there. In order to continue offering services to students, while also improving and expanding our reach to other campuses, we need your help.
Vote YES to make biking more accessible on Dalhousie campuses!
What has the Bike Centre Society has achieved this year? (Answer submitted by Keiran Brackenbury, board member and student volunteer.)
Our volunteers have been hard at work this year, providing the Dalhousie student body with wonderful opportunities to get involved in cycling on campus and in the greater Halifax community. We offer a variety of additional services, on top of our free bicycle loans and walk-in service.
Since Fall 2016, we have been running cycling maintenance workshops in an effort to give cyclists a better understanding of DIY maintenance and troubleshooting. As a society that aims for safety and accessibility in our community, we offer a series of winter and general maintenance workshops for women, trans and gender non-binary students.
In addition to these educational workshops, our dedicated volunteers have been running a variety of social group rides, including our Halloween Party Ride in October, and rides to nature areas like Point Pleasant and Herring Cove. Throughout Winter 2017, we have continued to deliver educational programming, providing workshops and rides to promote winter cycling as a viable option for Dalhousie students. Over the next couple of months, we are currently planning a number of rides, so stay tuned for more exciting events!
What would the Dal Bike Society plan to do with the money?
This increase would allow for several huge improvements to the Bike Centre.
The first would be to hire a staff member to keep the centre open and running during the week. Currently the Bike Centre’s opening hours are run entirely by student volunteers. As a result, hours are variable from term-to-term and there are often days when the Bike Centre is not open. Having a staff member would allow the Bike Centre to remain open more consistently during the week while allowing volunteers to have shifts that work around their schedules.
A levy increase would allow for more free workshops for students and community members such as the very popular women/trans/non-binary series that we ran this year. A big reason that we did not have more workshops like this was our difficulty finding qualified women/trans/non-binary folks in the cycling community to facilitate the workshops. Having more money would make running these workshops more enticing for prospective facilitators.
Finally, as we acquire more funds and make our services more available to a greater amount of students, we are going to need to expand our free loan fleet so that more students can access bikes at a time. This is a large capital purchase that is not possible without an increase in the levy.
What is your favourite thing about the Bike Society/ Bike Centre? (Answer submitted by Matthew Apostolides, student volunteer)
My favourite thing about the Bike Centre is that it allows me to supplement my formal, in-class education at Dal with practical, hands-on skills. Without the Bike Centre on campus, I would not have the ability to learn skills which are just as empowering as they are practical. When I first stepped in to the Bike Centre less than two years ago, I barely knew how to fix a flat tire. Through learning collaboratively from other volunteers, I am now able to do most basic repairs on my own bike as well as my friends’ repairs. Basic bike maintenance is an invaluable skill that will serve me very well going forward.
Compared to private classes at commercial bike shop or buying all of one’s own tools and gear, $1-2, per student, per year is well worth the price to keeping this space open. Even if you only use the Bike Centre to inflate the tires on your bike, this is still well worth under $10 over the course of your degree. As tuition fees, rent and associated costs continue to go up, active transportation will become essential for the student population. Keeping this initiative going is imperative for not just current students, but future students as well.