Yellow bikes keep students rolling

By Mazie Purcell

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For students famous for running late to class, there is only one thing to say: stop running, and start cycling.

Wildcat Wheels, a student run organization that operates solely on grants and loans, rents out bikes and locks to all students and faculty for free as part of the “Yellow Bike Program.”

In addition to loaning bikes, Wildcat Wheels has a fully workable shop employing five mechanics, two interns and numerous volunteers where students can bring in personal bikes that need fixing and receive help and advice.

“We are mostly about education, and our main focus is different from regular bike shops,” Scott Beckmeyer, manager of Wildcat Wheels said.  “First off, we don’t sell anything, and secondly, we teach how to fix problems.”

Since it began in 2004, Wildcat Wheels has continued to grow, improve and reevaluate their program. Previously, they were limited by being in one place all the time, said Beckmeyer, but to solve this problem, the program has created a mobile bike shop that will come to dorm lobbies to teach students on Tuesday nights.

Starting Sept. 9, the program will offer bi-weekly clinics that provide students with the opportunity to learn how to repair bikes. Students will be taught skills from fixing the breaks to installing a headset.

“We are reworking how the shop is run to give us a better opportunity to teach and make it more fluid,” Rick Wagner, the designer and workshop teacher said. “Every bike means one car off the road and fewer gallons being burned.”

Wagner said his goal is to gain one bike rider at each workshop, which will be held every other Thursday from 5-6 p.m. in the basement of Blazer Hall.

“The workshops are made possible by a grant from the Paula Nye Memorial Bicyclist and Pedestrian Education Grant.,” Beckmeyer said.  “The Paula Nye Grant program is administered by the Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission and is funded entirely by citizen contributions made by purchasing Kentucky’s ‘Share the Road’ specialty license plate.”

Beckmeyer is confident that the benefits of cycling will draw more UK students to ride.

“The bicycle is the most versatile form of transportation on UK’s campus,” Beckmeyer said.  “They are cleaner, cheaper, healthier and faster. This will be a good year for Wildcat Wheels.”

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