Alison Fine wanted to fix the inner tube on her bicycle, but there was one problem.
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry students Alison Fine, co-chair of the Purple Bikes program, and Mimmi Thompson, who will co-hair the program in the coming school year, want to make it easier to use two wheels.
The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry student couldn’t find the bike co-op office at Western.
That’s because there wasn’t one – until now.
Welcome to Purple Bikes, where students, staff, faculty and the greater London community will get access to everything they need to know about cycling – from repairs to temporary use of a bike.
“It’s meant to be a grassroots kind of program,” says Fine, co-chair of the Purple Bikes program with staff member Diane Burns. “There’s the fun aspect, the health aspect, and it’s a great way for students to connect with the community, go to the parks and head downtown instead of being stuck on campus.”
A former McMaster University student, Fine was all too familiar with the idea of a bicycle program. MACycle operates on a $10,000 annual budget, providing a bicycle support service to students and local Hamilton residents.
Almost half of Canada’s universities have bicycle programs, including the University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and Guelph University. Fine felt it was time for Western to saddle up.
The Purple Bikes program – an offshoot of EnviroWestern – will consist of two components.
The ride-share program, which is geared towards students, will offer free rental for 48 hours. The only cost will be a $5 annual membership fee. Depending on the number of bicycles available, students can continue to rent bicycles throughout the year.
The co-op branch of the program will offer low-cost repairs to the campus and London community by providing parts to members at cost and assistance in repairing their bikes. Student volunteers will be trained by mechanics to guide members in repairing their own bikes or can charge ($30 an hour) to make the repair.
Fine says volunteers will be trained every two months in sessions offered by an experienced bicycle mechanic and a designated list of complicated repairs will be referred to the local bike mechanic providing training sessions.
“The co-op is open to everyone in the community to encourage people to start taking bikes and stop taking cars,” says Fine. A campus-wide survey of students and staff indicated more than 90 per cent of respondents were interested in beginning to bicycle or currently bicycle and would be supportive of a Purple Bikes program.
The plan is to have the program running in early May from Elgin Hall, to allow front desk secretaries to test the system. The program has 12 bikes in its fleet – painted purple, of course. With the donation/acquisition of additional bikes the program will expand to Saugeen-Maitland, Perth Hall and University Community Centre (UCC) in September.
Fine says the program is recuiting volunteers and accepting donations from the community in the form of financial support or bicycles, bicycle parts and tools.
To assist the Purple Bikes program, contact the group by visiting their office in the UCC (Room 315C), e-mail email@example.com or search for ‘purple bikes’ on Facebook.
With the vision of the program being ‘Bike Purple, Green Western,’ Fine hopes individuals will rethink how their get around campus and the city. “With an accessible bike loan and repair service, students will be able to choose cycling in order to reach locations that were inaccessible without a car or public transit,” says Fine.
“The Purple Bikes program encourages healthy lifestyles by providing students with another form of exercise and will contribute to the quality of student experience in a multitude of ways”