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Cycle Shop Off and Pedaling

November 2, 2009

by Dan Evans
Cycle Shop Off and Pedaling

With fewer parking spaces to go around, CMC has attempted to increase the number of bicycles on campus with the opening of our very own cycle shop at the end of September. 

In addition to fixing bikes, the shop also offers rental bikes.  Nestled in the basement of Wohlford Hall, it remains largely unused by the student body despite the remarkable fact that repairs and rentals are provided free of charge.  Mike Carroll ('12), an employee at the shop, says that while rentals have been steady since the shop's opening in late September, traffic is still lagging.

"[There are] four or five people during the afternoons.  Less on the mornings or weekends," says Carroll, one of several student bike technicians employed by the shop.  The student employees are working through Federal Work Study, which likely accounts for the long hours of the shop.

In an article detailing the release of the shop on the CMC homepage, Dean of Students Jeff Huang hailed the shop as being a breakthrough both in terms of sustainability as well as an alternative for freshmen disallowed from bringing their own cars to campus.  Huang cited the service the shop would provide the school, saying that "Many students bring a bike to campus, but most don’t have an air compressor, or even a hand pump, nor do they have a way to put the bike in a car and take it to a bike shop.”

Many students do a poor job at taking care of their rides, and the bike techs at the shop have worked on numerous bikes with mechanical issues placing the rider at risk.   "I am consistently surprised to see the condition of some of the bikes that are brought in.  Amazing that they are still able to be ridden," said Carroll, who rides both competitively and recreationally.

From the language of the article, it would seem the opening of the bike shop was going to hail the advent of a bicycle revolution on campus.  Perhaps part of the shop’s relative lack of patrons is a lack of publicity. The shop opened in mid-September with little fanfare.  With training provided by Paul Miller, owner of Cycle Werks bike shops in Orange County and father of assistant dean of admissions Adam Miller ('03), the staff at the CMC bike shop are qualified to handle a variety of repairs.  "Even if we can't fix it for you, it's still good to identify any problem so it can be taken care of sooner rather than later," says Carroll.  "There is a bike shop just a short walk down to the Village, with an incredibly friendly and helpful staff."

Nonetheless, the shop is under-utilized.  It's disappointing to see something that could be a legitimate bonus for the CMCcommunity sit empty for the majority of the day. And those are long days, mind you, with hours from 9 AM- 10 PM on weekdays and 11 AM- 6 PM on weekends.  Why the shop needs to be open well after dark is a bit of a mystery.  Emergency tune-ups perhaps? Maybe its tucked away location and lack of signage are to blame-- in contrast, Pitzer's Green Bike Program is housed next to their student center and has an eye-catching facade.

With this new addition to CMC's sustainability agenda, perhaps some of the car-less freshmen should consider investing in a two-wheeled form of transportation. In the meantime, at least the CMC student body will have the security of knowing you can get your gears oiled any time of day.

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