With a New System, Big Blue Bikes Returns this Spring

Students without a bike who are looking for a faster way to take trips downtown or to get from Gelb to Graves are now able to rent a bike after the relaunch of Big Blue Bikes on April 6.

The initiative is now up and running with a major change: students can rent bikes for the entire term for a fee of $35 after signing a waiver. The school will cover the cost for those on financial aid.

“The purpose of the program is to give students an accessible opportunity to use bikes, especially if they live in small far away dorms or if they need to use one during the day.” said Auggie Horner ’14, Co-President of Big Blue Bikes. Horner has been planning the return of the bike rental program with Will Rodriguez ’13, Co-President of Big Blue Bikes, and Dan Martucci ’13 since the fall.

Uday Singh ’12, School President, and Mike MacKay ’11, former School President, created the concept of a community biking program in Fall 2010 but faced many challenges in its start-up.

Horner said, “Keys and locks were rearranged or went missing. It became hard to document our inventory of where everything was. Students had no responsibility [with the bikes]. We couldn’t give [the bikes] out because they weren’t at the library. It was difficult to manage the program.”

A major setback for the program was the death of Jerry Gauron, the owner of Andover Cycle, the shop that had sold the bikes to Andover and housed them during the summer and winter. After Gauron’s death last summer, the shop closed.

When the bikes were purchased from Andover Cycle, the cost included storage, access to the repair shop and transportation of the bikes to and from campus. When the shop closed, it became clear that the program was not sustainable without its services.

The Abbot Academy Association grant that originally funded the bicycles allotted little money for repairs.

“[The closing of the shop] is not something you can account for,” said Singh. “When things happen, you have to pull it together. So we thought, ‘How can we fix this? How can we move forward?’ Jerry Gauron was a wonderful guy. He helped us so much, and it was sad to see him go. This is our program, our idea, we weren’t going to let it fail, so we redesigned and reconstructed from the bottom up.”

Last summer, the bikes were put in storage at the Office of the Physical Plant (OPP) and were moved to the basement of Bishop Hall, where Thayer Zaeder, House Counselor in Bishop and Coach of Varsity Cycling, made minor repairs to the bikes.

With the relaunch of the program, students can pick up bikes from Zaeder in Bishop after having the waiver form signed and paying the rental fee.

Singh hopes that the program will expand after the relaunch.

He said, “I think the idea of [Big Blue Bikes] is to reach out to the kids who might not be able to afford bikes, to the number of students who wanted to have bikes, but couldn’t have bikes, and to give everyone a chance to be part of a bike culture, which we do hope will grow on campus.”

In the future, faculty members may also have the opportunity to rent bicycles as part of the program.