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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

New Racks, Fixit Stations to Enhance ODU Biking Experience

Old Dominion's bike-friendly campus is getting friendlier.

The addition of 27 new bike racks in March will increase the total on campus to nearly 300, with spaces for 2,500 bicycles. In addition, a pair of "Fixit" stations, stand-alone units that provide the equipment needed for cyclists to perform their own minor repairs, will also be installed outside Perry Library and Webb Center, so even flat tires and broken chains will now have trouble slowing the two-wheeled momentum.

"The bike culture at ODU is exploding right now," said Mike McFall, assistant director of the outdoor adventure program at the Student Recreation Center. Bike ODU, the sharing program for students, faculty and staff, "is running at max capacity," he said. "Our weekly rentals are constantly circulating."

ODU was named a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists in 2013 for its promotion of cyling on campus, its education programs, infrastructure and pro-biking policies. Bike ODU was introduced in the fall of 2012 with 48 bikes. The fleet is now up to 70, 18 of which are on semester-long rental for $30. The rest may be checked out for up to a week, free of charge.

But promoting cycling doesn't end for McFall when a bike leaves his depot. He has a bike-savvy staff that fixes mechanical problems for free, on rentals or on students' own bikes, seven days a week. His bike techs also run clinics in the bicycle learning lab at the rec center to teach riders how to troubleshoot and fix breakdowns.

And that's where the Fixit stations come in.

Anchored to the ground, the stout, cylindrical stands provide the necessary wrenches, screwdrivers and tire levers to fix flats, make brake adjustments and complete other minor repairs. The stations also come with smartphone QR codes so users can access detailed repair instructions online.

The tools and an air pump are attached to the Fixit stations with tamper-proof cables, and metal arms allow bikes to hang above the ground so that pedals and wheels can spin while repairs are made.

"Mike has asked for these for a long time," said Patricia King-Alvis, facilities sustainability coordinator. "I'm excited we got the money to do that."

Despite the burgeoning presence of bikes at ODU, many resources available to campus riders aren't widely known.

"Sometimes students have no idea we're here till they kind of stumble on us" at the rec center, McFall said.

So every bike convert delights McFall: "In an urban area, if you don't have to bring a car to campus, you save money and it's easier to get around," he said.

And so does every new rack, Fixit station and bike that arrives - the latest being 15 chainless Priority bikes McFall introduced to the share program this semester. Rather than a chain, Priority bikes have a belt, as in an automobile engine, for cleaner, more dependable rides.

For McFall, he hopes awareness will reduce the ranks of sad bikes rusting in racks.

"We're hoping if we give students the opportunity to maintain bikes, and teach them how to do it right, it will mean less bikes will be abandoned," he said.

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