While TU portrays itself as bike-friendly, there are few places and few times to get help, rent bikes or inflate tires.
As an avid biker, I never understood TU’s bicycle program: why does a campus with an army of yellow bikes, meant to be free for student use, have an air pump that doesn’t work? Why are so many students on a waiting list to receive a bicycle, yet there’s an entire locked rack of bikes right outside LaFortune? Why are bike shop hours limited? Why does the bike shop have so few employees?
Slow down, back up. One at a time.
TU has two bike pumps for students who don’t want to buy their own. Besides the one by Keplinger Hall, the other sits right outside the caf, so you can have an audience watch you when you completely deflate your tires in an attempt to put some air in them. Sound crazy? It’s true. The first time I used the pump, it completely deflated my tire, actually sucking out air. And I’m no amateur at pumping air. My friends used it, after my judicious warning to stay cognizant, and it lowered their tire pressure too. In talking to other bikers on campus, I have yet to meet anybody who can successfully use the caf bike pump. I have not yet attempted to use the one by Kep.
The only other place on campus to air up your tires, which according to my contacts at Phat Tire Bicycle on 2nd street, should be done after every time you ride, is the bike shop in Lafortune. Ah yes, the bike shop. Only open Monday–Friday, noon to six p.m, it’s about as convenient as a campus bike pump that deflates tires. Yes, it houses a pump that actually puts air inside tires, but you gotta get there first. For those of us who have lunch meetings, afternoon classes, evening project group meetings, do homework in the mornings and ride on the weekends, this six-hour time frame can be a pain.
What happens when you need to inflate your tires in the morning? Or on the weekends? Shouldn’t a modern college’s bike program have working pumps available ?
Having deflated tires isn’t just a pain in the ass (literally) — it’s hard on the bike’s body and can damage the wheel’s frame. I’ve had several conversations with employees at bike shops in Tulsa and all say the same thing: proper, routine inflation of tires is essential to a bike’s longevity and a user’s comfort.
Sitting right outside the bike shop at Lafortune is a massive rack of unused yellow bikes, locked together (don’t worry, I checked). Are they broken? If so, we have a bike shop with tools and paid student employees for a reason, right? If they aren’t broken, why doesn’t TU give them to the scores of students stuck on the infinite waitlist? Speaking of the waitlist, how early does a student need to be on campus to get a bike? By the first day of orientation my freshman year, there was a waitlist! The first day! If we’re going to have a program that gives bikes to students, wouldn’t it make sense to have enough working units that we don’t run out before upperclassmen even return to campus?
Let’s recap. A public pump that doesn’t work. Scores of students on an endless waitlist. An entire rack of bikes that are either broken and could be fixed or are ready for use and just sit there for aesthetics. Either way, they do no good to students by staying locked up at LaFortune.
TU has a nice campus for riding. TU has plenty of students who want access to a bike so they can get to class faster. TU has plenty of bikes that are sitting idle and locked together. It’s quite apparent that the time has come for a review of the bike program. The mission should be longer bike shop hours, hiring more bike shop workers who can (oh my god!) fix the broken bikes and more bikes for students in general.
And don’t forget! Please TU, if you do nothing else, if you don’t increase bike shop hours, fix up the old bikes or acquire more units so more students can ride, please at least give those of us who are lucky enough to have a bike public air pumps that actually work.