TORONTO — In a busy city like Toronto, getting around can be difficult and expensive — especially if you’re a student.
Based out of the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus, you’ll find a popular do-it-Yourself bicycle shop called Bikechain.
It’s a program that, according to it’s president Eugene Chao, may be an answer to a commuter student’s needs.
“Bikechain was created in 2005 as a student project that wanted to encourage more cycling on campus and teach people about how to maintain and ride their own machines,” says Chao.
Hannah Bild-Enkin uses her bike as a major mode of transportation in the city and says the organization gave her the tools to keep her bike functioning.
“Bikechain makes it possible to keep a well-maintained bike as a student where you don’t have a lot of money, you may not know where the resources are, and this is right on campus.”
The shop is open to everyone on a pay-what-you-can basis or free for students and faculty members of the U of T community.
Executive Director Kelly Bray, who has been with the organization since 2012, says you don’t need a degree in bicycle mechanics to successfully use the program.
“I think my favorite part of this is when someone comes in and they’ve never even used a screwdriver and they’re really nervous and they say, ‘Oh, I have a flat tire’ or, ‘I need to fix my brakes’ and 45-minutes later, they’re so happy because not only does their bike work — but they realize this is stuff they can do themselves.”
Students are encouraged to drop by the shop with their bikes for staff and volunteers to check them over, oil them up and do some minor adjustments to get them back on the road safely. Safety workshops are also organized for undergrads and graduate students promoting safe cycling and healthy bike maintenance.
“By empowering people to learn about their own machines and how to fix them, it allows people to feel a greater sense of comfort, security and willingness to ride their bikes in Toronto,” says Chao.