The Dalhousie University Bike Centre has reopened for the first time since April 2020. The centre has 18 bikes to loan out for students and a repair shop where people can fix their bikes and learn about bike maintenance.
“During COVID-19, it was a little difficult. There was a lack of volunteers to help organize, so we closed down for over a year. But now we’re back at it since we have students on campus again. So we’re happy to be here,” said bike centre manager Derik Sauve.
As he spoke, the break line popped off a bicycle frame behind him, he leapt back to help the rider secure it back on, then turned to help another student find the right tool to tighten her brakes.
“Here you go. Sorry, what was I saying?”
How it works
If someone is interested in borrowing a bike, they don’t need to pay. They just have to be a student of Dalhousie University or the University of King’s College. To request a bike loan, students can email email@example.com.
“Right now, the waitlist is like a week long, because people are really looking for a bike. It’s pretty straightforward,” said Sauve. “We get you our bike once your place comes up on the waitlist. Comes with a helmet and locks and lights. So you have everything you need to ride.”
You can also bring your own bike into the shop for repairs. The shop, located on Studley Campus, is open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “We’re hoping to go to three days a week,” said Sauve.
Dexter Banda, a nursing master’s student at Dalhousie, was repairing his bike in the shop with Sauve’s help. “I know some general maintenance stuff to be able to kinda take care of my bike. But there’s some stuff like changing the cables that I haven’t done before and don’t have the tools for,” he said. “I live in a small apartment so it’s easier to work in a comfortable place like this. It keeps you from making a mistake and having to do things twice or messing up.”
Banda said the centre is his go-to before heading to any bike shop, “it saves you money and you can do it on your own schedule. You also learn something.”
Banda says knowing how your bike works is important. “If you’re on a ride and you’re 60 or 70 kilometres from home and all of a sudden something breaks, you might have a better chance of getting yourself moving again if you know what’s happening,” he said. “I think it makes you a safer rider if you can look at your bike or feel something and say, ‘oh, that’s not right.’”
Bike Centre History
According to Sauve, the bike centre has been running on campus since 2009. “We opened up with a grant from the Green Foundation and the Dal sustainability office. For the most part, it was run by Dal until a few years ago when the DSU took over. And now we’re happy to say this is a completely student-run organization.”
Back in 2009, the centre had six bikes to loan out. Now they have 18 and the DSU levy has helped them fund their repair space.
According to their website, since students took over in 2017, the bike centre has helped 3,878 cyclists repair their bikes and loaned out bikes 2,057 times.
The timing of the bike centre opening gives students a brief window to borrow bikes before the winter comes, but the centre will remain open throughout the year.
“During the wintertime, we do a lot more classes to help people learn how to work on bikes, and maintain their own bikes. We’re always here when we’re open to help you work on your own bike,” said Sauve.
The bike centre doesn’t have a schedule up yet, but they’re planning to run workshops on maintenance once the roads get icy.
In the meantime, you can visit the centre during their hours or reach them over email to get biking.
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