Despite ample business and a dedicated staff, a complete funding cut to the on-campus Bike Shop threatens to derail the project for good.
The Terrified Pedestrian Bike Shop was created by Mike Benjamin, ‘09, in the fall of 2008 after the discontinuation of the FreeRide program, a bike-sharing program from two years prior which failed when students took bikes and neglected to bring them back, or seriously damaged them.
Since its creation, the Bike Shop has dealt with a move from Queen Anne Hall to the Waring Commons common room and, according to Bike Shop employee senior Paul Parzynski, threatened funding loss last year as a result of college funding cut-backs.
This year, however, Parzynski and other members of the Bike Shop were informed by Assistant Vice President of Campus Operations Derek Thornton, who manages the shop through the Physical Plant, that there was no money in the budget.
Thornton said that the Physical Plant currently pays Parzynski, along with current employees junior Roger Ding, senior Aaron French, and junior Mike Adashek, through a contingency plan “until [future] funding is identified.”
However, Parzynski said that until that occurs there is no budget to hire or pay any other employees, an issue considering the large number of people who have shown interest in working for the shop.
He added that until funding is found, the bike shop cannot expand its services to include bike sharing or improve its organization through a potential manager position.
Parzynski said that funding for the shop has always been ambiguous, but until recently it had received more money than needed. Parzynski further theorized that since the bike shop has come in significantly under budget the past few years, this may have been seen by administrators as a lack of activity.
Thornton said that the funding cut related to confusion regarding what services the bike shop should provide, and how its services should fit into the larger picture of the campus community. Assistant Vice President of Finance Christopher True was unavailable for comment.
Despite the Bike Shop’s budget gap, Parzynski said that since the beginning of this year alone around 70 bikes have been logged as being fixed, coming to around $3500 of directly recorded repairs.
He added that this number included only bikes which could not be fixed on-the-spot, and probably accounted for only around 40 percent of the bike shop’s business.
According to Parzynski, the reason the bike shop came under budget was that they “ran more efficiently” than administrators expected.
The employees of the shop, Thornton, and Student Trustee Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall are currently working on preparing a case for the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Oct. 1. Parzynski said, “our goal is to become [a financial] entity like SafeRide.”
Thornton said that he is currently meeting with the Office of Student Affairs to identify possible future funding sources.
President Joseph Urgo has also expressed interest in seeing the bike shop continue its existence, and although no decisions have been made, he said, “It would be nice to have that…[we want to] encourage bike riding on campus.”
Parzynski noted that, despite these possibilities, the bike shop as it stands now is in dire condition, and said, “I can’t imagine this place will remain open without funding.”
Video by Chris Paige, Video Editor