The previously-defunct Bike Share program restarted this week, thanks to the efforts of Cycling Club and Student Council. The program allows students to check out a bicycle and a helmet from McCabe for up to 24 hours.
Erin Ching ’16, a member of Cycling Club, spearheaded Bike Share’s revitalization and did much of the work to ready the bikes for the program. Ching also worked with Cycling Club and Student Council member Tony Lee ’15, who helped secure funding for the program from Student Council.
His years as a mechanic at various bike shops in Seattle, Washington (home to a vibrant cycling culture) Ching worked with Jonah Schwartz ’15, also an experienced mechanic, to fix the bikes from the old program. Ching and Schwartz expect to spend about four hours each week voluntarily maintaining the bicycles for the program, which ended after its previous leaders graduated from Swarthmore.
Ching hopes the Bike Share program will strengthen and connect to the Cycling Club.
“In an ideal world,” Ching said, “people would use the Bike Share program a lot, and when they realize how convenient it is to have a bike, they would buy a bicycle at the Mary Lyon bike sale and then join Cycling Club.”
Ching’s vision is for Cycling Club to host frequent workshops where attendees can learn to fix flat tires and do other types of basic maintenance.
She also hopes that Cycling Club will continue to run its occasional Sunday morning group rides, during which students who enjoy cycling exercise and socialize with like-minded peers. The rides leave from Parrish circle, helping students of all levels of ability learn about cycling, and, if they wish, train for racing.
In addition to helping bring back the Bike Share program, members of the Cycling Club have competed in several Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference races this semester, led by Robin Carpenter ’13. Carpenter also races professionally on the Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, which participates in elite races in Europe and America and feeds riders to teams which compete in events such as the Tour de France.
Ultimately, Ching and Schwartz hope that bike share will provide the foundation for a cycling co-op. Schwartz, who has worked in multiple co-ops in his hometown of Los Angeles, California, also a cycling hotbed, said the co-op would be community owned and operated. Those who have experience with fixing bikes would volunteer their time to teach others how to maintain their own bicycles, sharing skills and knowledge with the broader community.