By Dale Barbour
Cyclists at the University of Manitoba now have a place to call home on the Fort Garry Campus.
The Bicycle Dungeon opened last week during Environmental Awareness Week at the university. The come-and-go bike shop is aptly named considering it’s tucked in with the University of Manitoba Recycling and Environmental Group’s recycling depot at 157 Helen Glass Centre.
But Anders Annell and Geoff Heath are hoping the shop will turn into a resource centre and a meeting place for the university’s cyclists.
"The big opportunity to do this came from the Government of Canada’s Youth Environmental Network One-Tonne Challenge Grant. The grants are given to groups with projects that will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions," environmental studies student Anders Annell said. The group received $4,000 to set up the Bicycle Dungeon, enough to outfit it with a work space, equipment, spare parts and repair manuals.
The idea is that people can come to the bike shop and receive training in how to repair their bikes or if they already know their way around a bike they can come to the shop and do their own repair work, but be spared the cost of having to buy their own tools.
"We want people to be self sufficient when it comes to repairing their bikes," Heath said. "That way they can have a way of getting around the city and they know how to repair it."
The come-and-go bike shop idea has been tried at other universities and at The Bike Dump, a non-profit bike shop located at 594 Main Street.
The final operating hours for the Bicycle Dungeon haven’t been set yet, but it will be open throughout the year. Heath and Annell will be on site part of the time and they’ll be backed up by a cadre of volunteers the rest of the time. They expect the peak season to be in the fall, but there are cyclists who ride all year long and while the number of students on campus is reduced during the summer, it’s also the best time of the year to commute by bike.
Ultimately, Heath and Annell hope the repair end of the bike shop will just be part of its purpose. They’re also assembling a fleet of rental bikes for use by people on campus.
"People can rent a bike for a day or for the season," Heath said. "It would be ideal for International students who are over for a term and want a bike, but don’t want to have to spend money buying a new one that they’re only going to have to get rid of when they leave."
And given that they are part of UMREG, the focus will be on recycling and salvaging bikes that have been left around campus or turned into Security Services.
The big picture is to get more people taking alternative means of transportation to get to the university, which means fewer people fighting for parking spots on campus or cluttering up the roads with cars.
The Bike Dungeon can be contacted through the UMREG office at 474 9118.