Zen and the art of Bicycle Maintenance

A dozen yellow bikes may soon be coming to a bike rack near you.

The Yellow Bike project will most likely go into effect after Spring Break, providing free, healthy, and environmentally-friendly transportation to Western’s campus. It could also alleviate some parking issues for students who live on or near campus. The Bike Project was originally conceived by Jennifer Wright of Base Camp Cullowhee, two years ago.

Inspired by her, Stephen Benson, a Western senior in the Construction Management program, has since revived the program. The Yellow Bike Project will run with the support of the Cycling Club and Base Camp Cullowhee.

The Bike Project runs completely on an honor system. Bikes that have been painted yellow and marked as Western property will initially be placed on bike racks on the UC lawn, eventually to become distributed throughout campus. The bikes will be available to everyone to ride for transportation and recreation. Students are asked that they do not remove the bikes from campus and that they return them to any bike rack on campus; it is understood that students should respect the program enough not to steal the bikes.

This program has been a work-in-progress for Benson for the past four or five months. Through project runs through the donation of bikes, about twelve have already been collected. Eight of them are now in working order. The Cycling Club will perform all repairs on the bikes. Those working on the project hope to eventually have at least 24 yellow bikes on campus.

Western’s lawyers have also been contacted to determine the legalities involved with the program. “Ride at your own risk” stickers will be placed on the bikes so that injuries will not be a liability to the school. A sticker with the phone number for Base Camp Cullowhee will also be on every bike so that students can report any damaged bikes. All bikes will be maintained by the Cycling Club and have reflectors. Students are not required by the school or law to wear a helmet, but are advised to be cautious for their own safety.

Western is not the first school to have such a program in place.

Furman has a green bike program and Appalachian State and some UNC schools allow students to check out bikes. Yale University actually provides all incoming freshman with a new bike. Yellow was the chosen color for Western’s program because it is close to our school color and is a very visible color.

Campus police is on board with the Yellow Bike Project, and Western’s Political Science fund has already donated funds. Most donations have been used to purchase inner tubes and other parts for repair. Benson has also taken other measures to secure funds for the project. Project members have also applied for a wellness grant from Carrie Joseph (C.L.A.W.), and Benson plans to put ads in the Sylva Herald, Mountain Express, and on Craig’s List asking for donations.

Students who would like more information about the Yellow Bike Project or would like to volunteer with painting and repairs can find either Stephen Benson or the Yellow Bike Project Group on Facebook. Any donated bikes can be received at Base Camp Cullowhee, which is located in Brown Cafeteria.