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ASU's Bike Co-Ops cycle through pandemic, still offers some free services

The Tempe and Polytechnic campus locations remain open for those who need bike and skateboard maintenance services

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Aaron Harris, ASU Poly Bike Co-Op coordinator, inflates tires at the ASU Polytechnic Campus in Mesa on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.

The ASU Bike Co-Op is a student-led effort to provide bicycle and skateboard maintenance to the ASU community for little to no cost, and employees adapted to ensure they can continue to do so through the pandemic.

“It started off with a group of students that just wanted to work on their bikes,” said Aaron Harris, a senior technological entrepreneurship and management major and the student coordinator of the Polytechnic campus' co-op. 

Polytechnic students petitioned for the Bike Co-Op to be given space in the campus fitness center when it was built in 2013. There are co-ops on the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campus, but the Downtown campus' co-op was forced to close indefinitely this semester due to staff shortages, according to Harris. 

While the Polytechnic and Tempe locations are both funded by ASU’s Undergraduate Student Government, they operate very differently in terms of cost per service and rentals available. At the Poly location, pretty much any service performed is free of charge. 

“It is free as long as we have the parts in stock, and we stock just about every part you could possibly break on a bicycle,” Harris said. 

Cole Dziawura, a senior mathematics major and USG Tempe's Bike Co-Op director, said Tempe's location can't afford to provide services at the same cost as Poly's location. 

“We do end up seeing a lot more students so that is a big reason why we do end up charging,” Dziawura said. “However, if they are just having issues with the bike and need a quick tune-up like chain lubricant or adjusting the brakes we can do that all free of charge.”

If the Tempe Bike Co-Op were to offer free services as the Poly location did, Harris estimates it would cost USGT $250,000 a year compared to Poly’s $30,000 a year. 

“I’ve never had my bike serviced at the Tempe location for that reason. I go to the Tempe location if I need air or if I need to ask a quick question,” said Darrell Jackson, a senior studying computer science and geological sciences and frequent Bike Co-Op customer.

Unlike the Tempe location, the Poly location houses 74 bikes and 26 longboards free to rent for up to two weeks at a time, Harris said. The bikes are also issued out with a U-lock.

"Unfortunately our space does not allow (the Tempe location) to have enough room to hold that many bikes so we don’t do bike rentals or longboard rentals," Dziawura said. 

Dziawura said USGT has considered offering rentals in the future, but it's not possible with their current space. 

Though the two locations are very different, they've adopted the same operations to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dziawura said the mechanics are diligent about wearing masks and sanitizing bikes before and after working on them. Harris said they also sanitize the entire shop twice a day and wipe communal surfaces every two hours. They also created an appointment system to limit the number of people in the shop.

“(This) is also something we didn’t do in the past but has ended up turning into a super helpful and beneficial thing for our mechanics. So I think that even after COVID we are going to stick with that procedure,” Dziawura said.

According to Harris, the co-ops have seen a significant drop in customers through the pandemic.

“Obviously with less students on campus we’ve seen a lot less students come in. But we really thought it was important no matter what to be open for those students that are on campus to get those bikes fixed,” Dziawura said. “It really wasn’t an option for us to look at that as a reason to close.”

According to Dziawura, the ASU Bike Co-Ops are funded by student fees which are appropriated by USG. 

The ASU Poly Bike Co-Op is open at the Sun Devil Fitness Center Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations can be made here.

The ASU Tempe Bike Co-Op is open inside the SDFC Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and appointments are made through the SDFC website.

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