More wheels now offered on campus


Ed Matthews//Kentucky Kernel

By Richard Symons

More students now have the opportunity to forget the car keys and grab a different set of wheels to get around.

Wildcat Wheels recently expanded the Residence Hall Bicycle Program from a pilot fleet of 12 bikes to 42.

The program began in 2004 in UK Sustainability Coordinator Shane Tedder’s living room, which eventually moved to his garage.

Drew Combs, one of the shop managers, said they started with a fleet of 12 and over the past six years, with a lot of help and a lot of generosity, were able to expand to four fleets of more than 150 bikes.

“Our fleets began with a general fleet, of which we now have close to 80,” Combs said. “This provides free, sustainable transportation to students, faculty and staff that many times would not be available and may be replaced by a car.”

The general fleet is distributed on a first come, first serve basis at the beginning of each semester to students, faculty and staff for the full semester. Some of the other fleets aim toward daily rentals for departments and residence halls for people to use for errands and travel during university hours, Combs said.

The biggest and most recent expansion in the program is the residence hall fleet, Combs said.

“This fleet consists of 42 bikes, two for each residence hall on campus,” he said. “The idea is that students without access to a bike can check out the bike for a day and go to the grocery, run to class, etc., without having to depend on a car.”

The university currently funds Wildcat Wheels, though much of the funding is received through independent grants. Student Government was a founding funding partner, and the Student Sustainability Council and Resident Student Association also provide support.

For students looking to visit Wildcat Wheels, the shop hours vary throughout the semester, but the organization is open beneath Blazer Hall four days a week.

“These hours are open to any affiliate of UK to come in a learn how to work on their own bike, get advice from our mechanics and staff and to volunteer,” Combs said. “This is an enormous resource for the university, providing free, practical knowledge to anyone that will listen that will only make your experience on a bike more fulfilling.”

Beginning this semester, the program also offered traveling workshops available to residence halls with tutorials on bike maintenance and upkeep, Combs said. Having more bikes to offer students is a major benefit, but being able to offer department rentals and weekly rentals allows the organization to help the entire UK community, he said.

“The students are really why we exist in the first place, but having an opportunity to reach other members of the university only makes the programs better,” Combs said. “Plus, everything we offer is completely free.”