After a long wait, the Bike Lab is now open for business again. The campus hub for cyclists is open to students as well as community members. Anyone can bring their bike down to the University of Winnipeg (U of W) shop for repairs or just a tune up, and it’s free to use.
Robin Bryan, the general coordinator for the Bike Lab says a lot of things needed to be done before the space was ready.
“The move took a lot of coordination and careful planning … We’ve had a growing intention to make accessibility a priority for our facility,” Bryan says. “Some of the upgrades we’re showcasing (include) a new wheelchair ramp … as well as a raising and lowering workbench table, which can allow wheelchair people to participate more than they ever could before.”
Bryan says making the space wheelchair accessible was one of the most requested improvements.
One of the other big upgrades to the Bike Lab was the inclusion of security cameras and data streams, so cyclists can connect to the internet and look up tutorials on bike repair.
Daniel Smith, a downtown cyclist, is glad there’s a spot on campus where urban commuters can repair their bikes.
“If their bike is broken down, they won’t be able to ride it down to The Wrench to get it repaired … It’s nice to have this place right on campus, where I can pump up my tires or if I need to do something significant,” Smith says.
The Bike Lab originally opened in 2011 as a project between several organizations within the U of W. It’s meant to not only be a place to perform bike maintenance but also a cycling education and advocacy programming space.
Ted Turner, the manager of special projects and strategic initiatives for the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA), says the space is an example of the passion of students.
“To me this is an example of what students can accomplish when they’re really passionate and really fuelled by their imagination around an idea. It’s just been a real honour to just be around this thing, and to have a small part on its work,” Turner says.
Turner says the support for the Bike Lab “comes from the top down,” and that the combined support of students and faculty made this facility possible.
Bryan hopes the multiple changes and upgrades to the space will attract more people to cycling.
“That’s one of the great things about cycling, is that it kind of reaches across so many socioeconomic differences between people … It’s all something that people share in common,” Bryan says.
“We feel that our student focus is enriched by our acceptance of people from all walks of life … We’re very confident that this has been worth the wait to have these improvements and to just make the space not only better for accessibility but more optimized for storage and functioning.”
Bike Lab hours can be found on the UWSA website, theuwsa.ca.