Bikes@Brown is a free, on-campus, student-run bicycle repair and rental shop. The organization’s mission is “to facilitate bike usage and increase its prevalence on Brown’s campus and through the Ocean State.” Bikes@Brown also runs regular bike rides and events that are open to the Brown community.
Environmentalists often present cycling as a way to reduce the number of cars on the road. However, few Brown students have cars in the first place. Thus, Bikes@Brown doesn’t directly serve this purpose. It does, however, represent a significant and helpful resource to students who rely on bikes as a source of transportation and/or recreation by providing free rentals and repairs. Further, through rentals, rides, and events, Bikes@Brown raises awareness within the Brown community about the benefits—for the environment, for health, for mobility, etc.—of cycling. Additionally, through volunteerism, Bikes@Brown engages in Rhode Island bike philantrophy efforts. For example, Bikes@Brown members volunteered at Recycle-a-Bike, a nonprofit, between 2012 and 2014 to repair bikes for recent refugees.
With a university-granted budget of $1,000 per year, Bikes@Brown purchases tools, standard parts, and used bicycles. During the academic year, Bikes@Brown runs three two-hour “office hours” each week. In office hours, Brown community members can come to rent bikes or get their bikes repaired. After signing a liability form and a rental agreement, they get a free bike, helmet, and lock to use for one week. Rental bikes are tuned up regularly.
MISTAKES & LESSONS LEARNED
Having users sign clear and binding rental forms is important, as some may try to get out of paying late return and damage fees. Purchasing extra key copies from lock companies such as Kryptonite is also important, since users will constantly be losing bike keys. Only purchase high-quality used bikes; repairing low-quality bikes is highly time-consuming.
In the future, Bikes@Brown will continue to advocate for the implementation of a city-wide bike share in Providence. Also, we will pursue moving our shop to a larger and more accessible location, perhaps to the basement of Brown’s Urban Environmental Lab. Finally, we will try to market and schedule our bike rides more effectively.