Let’s go ride a bike

Bikes with broken frames, flat tires and rusted chains are strewn throughout campus, and it seems no one is willing to repair them.This will all change with the initiatives of UVM’s newest prospective club, the Bike Users Group (BUG). BUG is trying to help create a way to get more bikes off of those beat up bike racks, according to its founders. “[The mission of BUG is to] promote bike use within the UVM community and provide a hub for bike users and bike culture,” junior Todd Alleger and BUG member said. “We want to give students access to bike maintenance and bike maintenance skills while also giving everyone free access to a bike,” junior Jesse Simmons and BUG founder said. The new club hopes to start a bike-sharing fleet and bike repair shop on campus, because there is currently no such place on campus that offers those services. “We will hopefully get a space where we can have a co-op, which will give us space for students to work on their bikes,” senior and BUG member Phil Fandel said. Once a cooperative is established, students will feel more encouraged and actually have the resources to ensure bike riding as an easier way to travel, he said. Along with repairing and using bikes, one of the biggest goals of BUG is to work with the community and create student-community partnerships, Simmons said. “We got together and decided that Burlington and the University of Vermont is the perfect spot geographically and culturally for a bike-sharing program,” he said. While BUG is still in its embryonic stage, Simmons said all of its current members are looking optimistically towards the future. “Its exciting because anyone who joins can really have a stake in where BUG goes,” he said. “Anyone and everyone can offer something to BUG at this point in time.” As a bike rider around campus, UVM anthropology professor Luis Vivanco wants to see more support for cyclists. “There is no quicker, healthier and more ecologically sustainable way to move yourself around Burlington than a bicycle,” he said. Community members and students bike around Burlington — especially in the summer — as a mode of transportation. Junior Victoria Pulie said she is spending her first summer in Burlington and hopes to hop on a bike when she needs to get around town. “I plan on riding my bike as much as possible over the summer,” she said.  “It makes sense because the parking downtown can be a nightmare sometimes. Plus it’s good exercise and fun.”Vivanco said the infrastructure of bike paths in Burlington is another perk. “On a quiet weekday when the crowds are thin, the bike path can’t be beat for a quick ride of stunning scenic beauty,” he said.This summer, Vivanco is teaching a course titled Bicycles, Globalization and Sustainability, which will discuss bikes and their relation to global issues. “The courses I teach are highly interactive and discussion-centered. We’ll have readings on bicycle cultures and advocacy and we’ll watch and discuss a number of films,” he said.The class will not be your ordinary lecture-style course, either. “We’ll be on two wheels, starting with a bicycle safety session with a trainer from the League of American Bicyclists and several fieldtrips,” he sad.In a car-centered culture, it is difficult for Americans to think of bikes as a practical way to get around, Vivanco said. “Getting used to biking should be a cinch [for those who don’t already ride],” he said.