The Collegian
Saturday, September 24, 2022

Future of green bikes uncertain after repairs

The Green Bikes have survived their first semester, but not without repairs that have caused sponsors to question whether the program will be continued in the future.

Karen DeBonis, a member of GreenUR, said the success of the program depended on the students.

"Obviously we hope that students will respect the bikes as if they were their own," DeBonis wrote in an e-mail. "I think that based on the number of damages we are seeing, students are not currently doing that to their best effort."

Daniel Kinka, a University of Richmond graduate student and Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness employee, is responsible for repairing the Green Bikes.

"There was a little intentional abuse at first," Kinka said. "It makes my life harder, but it's almost to be expected. But the good news is we see less and less of that. Now the repairs are regular wear and tear."

Tom Roberts, the director of recreation and wellness, wrote in an e-mail: "Some [bikes needed repairs] because of improper assembly and some because of abuse. This is something we anticipated."

Kinka said some of the bikes had had loose bolts when they arrived, which caused a few problems on the opening day. He said this was not because of the quality, and the bikes were chosen because they were durable and easy to repair.

Doug Goad, the manager of equipment and facilities at the Weinstein Center, said he was trying to be optimistic about the program, but approximately 18 out of the original 35 bikes had been severly damaged.

"I wouldn't say any of the bikes are 'damaged beyond repair,'" Kinka said. "There are a couple off the road because we removed them. We use them as organ donor bikes, and rather than repair them we use them for parts."

Kinka fixes four or five bikes a week on average. Out of the original 35 bikes, about nine are waiting for replacements of certain parts. He said one part in particular - the spindle, which is an axle - was a recurring broken part in these bikes. Maintenance workers bring bikes needing repairs to the Weinstein Center, where Kinka works on them. There is also a phone number on the bikes for students to call if they find a broken bike.

Kinka thought the program was successful, and had been told that the program would be reassessed in order to decide whether the program would purchase more bikes at the end of the year. Roberts said he had been pleased with the program and found it rewarding to see so many of the bikes around campus and hear positive feedback.

Goad said a meeting would be held during the next few weeks to consider how to proceed with the program in the spring semester.

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Roberts said these meetings and monitoring of the program would determine whether the program was worth support and funding.

"Therefore, it's very important that students are respectful of the bikes, follow the simple rules of the Green Bike program and ride the bikes safely and [in] compliance with all state laws," he said.

Contact staff writer Mary Morgan at mary.morgan@richmond.edu

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