Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way

Wildcat Wheels plans to expand free bicycle rentals on campus

There is a good chance that the abandoned bike on the side of the road will reappear on campus 90 days and a few paint jobs later. Wildcat Wheels is in the business of rebuilding UK Police-impounded bikes to get students rolling.

“We turn potential trash into transportation,” said Shane Tedder, founder and coordinator of Wildcat Wheels.

Tedder, a conservation biology graduate student, started the program because of his love for cycling.

“Biking is the only thing I’ve done in my life consistently that every time I do it reminds me of being 8 years old,” he said.

Tedder began Wildcat Wheels in October 2004 to rent out his first set of yellow bikes to UK. The basement of Blazer Hall is home to Wildcat Wheels’ fleet of blue and yellow bikes, but people interested in renting them need to apply through the Cats Den.

The blue bike fleet is available for faculty and staff to rent, with a limit of one for each department. The yellow fleet of bikes is divided into semester-long and daily bike rentals, all free of charge for students. However, once a student has rented one for a semester, he or she cannot do so again.

“I’m not in the business of giving people free bikes,” Tedder said. “I’m in the business of getting them on one.”

He said that if they want a bike after a semester of renting one, it would be in the renter’s best interest to purchase one of their own.

Wildcat Wheels received about $3,000 from Student Government this semester, which is $1,000 more than it received at the beginning of last year.

“Student Government has been the primary funding source for Wildcat Wheels since we started in 2004,” Tedder said.

SG increased the program’s fall-semester funding so it could stay open longer and obtain more bikes, SG President Nick Phelps said.

“I feel that the program is instrumental to helping us have better transportation, and a more friendly environment,” Phelps said.

Tedder said he hopes that with this year’s funding, Wildcat Wheels will be open four days a week. Its current hours are Monday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5:30 pm. Tedder would like to add a shift on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and a shift on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Tedder also plans to hire two interns this semester to help him and the organization’s one other employee.

“Our goal is to be an educational resource,” Tedder said, “where people can learn bike maintenance skills.

“I think bikes are great for recreation and fitness, but the true glory of a bike is as a mode for urban transportation,” he said. “Traveling by bike is cleaner, healthier, cheaper and often faster than traveling by car.”