Since it’s heated up outside, more people have ditched their car keys for bike locks. And volunteers at the University of Winnipeg are giving cyclists a hand with keeping their bikes road ready and promoting environmentally friendly transit alternatives.
Since opening up shop in front of the downtown campus, the University of Winnipeg Student Association’s (UWSA) Bike Lab has recruited twelve volunteers to help people get their wheels in working order.
Biology student Sara Thiessen said she works as a volunteer for the Bike Lab because she’s very passionate about cycling.
“I love cycling and the community. I believe in fixing things up instead of just throwing it away. They can come here and fix up their own bikes. It’s a very rewarding thing, to be able to work on your own bikes.”
The Bike Lab opened in October of last year with funding from the UWSA and an anonymous alumnus. What appears on the outside to be two randomly placed sea cans on campus, is actually a fully functioning shop, filled with tools and worktables on the inside.
Kyle Smitt, an English major at the University, said he was able to ride his bike throughout a lot of the winter and looks forward to using the lab.
“The weather this year was great for being able to bike to school all the time. I haven’t had to do many repairs to my bike since the Lab opened, but I’ll definitely be heading there when I do.”
But the Lab isn’t just for students; it’s meant to be a hub for anyone in the community who rides to work or uses it leisurely. Other than helping people keep their bikes in top form, it also offers programming like safety workshops, networking, and a registry for on-campus bikes.
“We’re trying to get more people out biking. It’s the power of numbers. We have a great biking community here in Winnipeg and the weather in summer is beautiful. We’re trying to get people off their addiction to driving everywhere,” said Thiessen.
To Thiessen, the chance to work on bikes behind the Bike Lab is what hooked her into volunteering at the Lab.
“On warm days, its just bustling in here. I probably spend more time in the Lab than I do in class.”