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Not your average insect

Bike users group encourages transportation on two wheels

Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 19:02

bike

Patrick Tracy

Bikes with broken frames, flat tires and rusted chains are strewn throughout campus with no one to repair them back to useable condition.

This will all change with the initiatives of UVM's newest prospective club, the Bike Users Group (BUG).  BUG is trying to help create a way to get more bikes onto those beat up bike racks, according to its founders.

"[The mission of BUG is to] promote bike use within the UVM community and provide a hub for bike users and bike culture," junior Todd Alleger said.

 "We want give students access to bike maintenance and bike maintenance skills while also giving everyone free access to a bike," junior Jesse Simmons said.

The new club hopes to start a bike-sharing fleet and bike repair shop on campus, because there is currently no such place on campus that offers those services.  "We will hopefully get a space where we can have a co-op, which will give us space for students to work on their bikes," senior Phil Fandel said.

Once a cooperative is established, students will feel more encouraged and actually have the resources to ensure bike riding as an easier way to travel, he said.

Junior Mickey Hardt agrees.  "A co-op can provide such a wide range of features," he said.  "It would benefit all bike users."

Along with repairing bikes and using bikes, one of the biggest goals of BUG is to work with the community and create student-community partnerships, Simmons said.

"We got together and decided that Burlington and the University of Vermont is the perfect spot geographically and culturally for a bike sharing program," he said.

As a bike rider around campus, Anthropology Professor Luis Vivanco wants to see more support for cyclists.

"There is no quicker, healthier and more ecologically sustainable way to move yourself around Burlington than a bicycle," he said.

BUG founders believe that they can help change the minds of the University administration and are taking strides to influence transportation planning.

"We're actually completely aligned with transportation planning missions and the campus-planning mission except nobody has really done anything yet," Fandel said.  "So this club is really getting the university on its track."

In a car-centered culture, it is difficult for American to think of bikes as a practical way to get around, Vivanco said.

Still, "getting used bikes should be a cinch," he said.

"The hard part will be getting administration approval for a bike share program and then building a culture of user-respect for the bikes," Vivanco said.

While BUG is still in its embryonic stage, Simmons said all of its current members are looking optimistically towards the future.

"Its exciting because anyone who joins can really have a stake in where BUG goes," he said.  "Anyone and everyone can offer something to BUG at this point in time."


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