To celebrate Earth Week, and to continue in their great program growth, the University of Oregon’s Bike Program is unveiling their new “Mobile Repair Trike” today. The trike is a collaboration of the Center for Appropriate Transportation (CAT), the Student Sustainability Coalition, and the UO Bike Program.
The three-wheeled bike features a metal box integrated into the handlebars. The lid of the box slides to one side to serve as a worktable. When extended, a pegboard full of tools slides up within the mechanic’s reach. A lower compartment can store three collapsible bike stands. The tricycle itself is made to haul heavy loads while still being comfortable for any rider. Other nice features include an Alfine 8-speed internal hub and Avid Disc Brakes with a lock setting for parking.
Matt Keller, UO Bike Program Lead Mechanic said, “It will allow us to work on a lot of bikes where they are, so we don’t have to move them.” This will be particularly important, he says, when the UO Bike share system is online. That bike share system has been delayed with contract negotiations but is speculated to open sometime over the next year (hopefully soon…).
The Mobile Repair Trike will also be used for free repair events on campus and in the community, according to Keeler, like the one happening today from 10 AM – 4 PM across from Lillis Business School on 13th Avenue. Students and community members can stop by with their bikes to have a free safety check from Bike Program staff and volunteers. Anyone stopping will also be able to take a look at the new Mobile repair bike up close and learn more about the UO Bike Program.
Jan VanderTuin, founder of CAT, worked with the UO Bike Program closely throughout the project, from concept, to design and finally fabrication. CAT welders completed fabrication of the frame and box. He agreed that this project is, “very visual…bringing bike repair out into the community is a way to inspire people to ride their bikes.”
VanderTuin sees the UO as a “minor city,” and as such, he says, “[UO] needs to think about transportation. This [Mobile repair bike] is a major step toward taking care of people who ride.”
The Student Sustainability Fund (SSF) granted the UO Bike Program $3,700 to build the bicycle in 2013. Three students of the Bike Program sketched out designs and authored the grant. The three then passed the project on to current staff, to select components and build the tricycle up.
“So many people put so much time into it – and everyone had a different idea of what it should look like,” says Keeler, “but we pooled all those ideas together and, I think by doing that, we made it better.”
VanderTuin hopes that by working with young people like Keeler he can convey that these kinds of projects are not a one-time “learning experience,” but rather that learning and education are “an integral part of our lives… and I hope students carry that beyond their time at the University.”
Al Hongo has been with the UO Bike Program since 2008 as a mechanic, and currently he teaches students and community members how to work on their own bikes in the program’s Bike School. He’s also a mechanic at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life (and other even grander local bike titles).
“I’ve participated in a number of mobile bike repair events… even those cruder, proto repair bikes created quite an impression [on me] and were revolutionary compared to other set-ups.” This is no crude repair bike however, he says, “this iteration is the next evolution and it is remarkable – so far beyond anything else in its category.”
Students take the lead
For the past six years, students have funded projects and programs that make bicycling a convenient, fun, and affordable way to get to and around campus. The creation of the UO Bike Program, the Pedal power generation system, and installation of eight do-it-yourself repair stations around campus are just a few of the investments made by students to encourage bicycling.
Former Bike Program Operations Coordinator and Mobile Repair Trike grant writer, Aaron Rourke, says, “I feel like this cargo bike encompasses everything that is at the core of the Bike Program…and in the forefront, student empowerment.”
It’s really exciting to see the UO Bike Program continue to grow and have a positive impact on the community and especially on the UO student relationship with cycling. Cycling has been an important part of student life at the UO for many decades but having a strong Bike Program like this is taking it to the next level. One of the people to pat on the back for this is the Bike Program’s coordinator Briana Orr. Thankfully she’ll be receiving some recognition this Spring when the BTA will give her their “Emerging Leader Award” as part of their annual Alice Awards event. From the loan program, classes, trips, events, mobile repair, and soon bike share there are some really exciting things happening around the University!