Got (Bicycle) Wheels?

Melanie Singer ’17, Contributing Writer

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Bikes get repaired at the Handlebar, the teach-yourself-bike repair shop

Bikes get repaired at the Handlebar, the teach-yourself-bike repair shop

Sustainable transportation gets easier with each passing year at Dickinson, thanks to the growing popularity of biking initiatives on campus.

This fall, DPS added new bikes to its fleet of Red Bikes, which launched in 2007. The Handlebar is also working on increasing its number of bicycles in their Green Bikes fleet. According to Handlebar workers, the Green Fleet bicycles, which are up-cycled and recycled bicycles assembled by Handlebar employees and available to students for semester-long rental, the entire fleet was reserved before the start of classes this fall.

The Handlebar, Dickinson’s own teach-yourself-bike repair shop, appears to have adopted a variation on the old proverb: “…give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime…”

Biking around college campuses has always been popular for many students. Yet the Handle Bar takes the bike shop to the next level. Not only is it a place for students, staff and faculty to stop by and pump some air into their tires, but it’s also a place to repair or build your own bike. The volunteers who staff the Handlebar will teach those who are interested about repairing and building bikes, but will not actually do the repairs themselves.

Avery McGuire ’13 conceived the concept when she was studying abroad in Copenhagen in 2011. Everyone rides bikes in Copenhagen. McGuire retuned to Dickinson and, along with Daniel Grover ’12, developed a plan and found space to open The Handlebar in beta mode in 2011.

In 2012, the Handlebar spearheaded the building of Green Bikes, built from sustainable recycled bike parts found in junkyards and even discarded along streets.

This year is the HandleBar’s third official year and its popularity continues to grow. All the bikes in the Green Fleet program were reserved before classes began this fall.

“The day it hailed, we had 17 people come into the HandleBar,” explained Mariah Murphy ’15. This demonstrates how popular the HandleBar is becoming.

So far this year, there have already been a few green bikes built by students, as well as many requests to visit a Recycle Bicycle shop by Carlisle to pick up bike parts. There’s a sense of community among those involved in the HandleBar, including volunteers and those who go to work on their old or new bikes. Everyone who participates with the bike shop has sustainability on their minds.

The Red Bikes Program is another great option on campus for those who do not want to build their own green bike or purchase their own. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) allows students to borrow bikes from them for a few hours. All you have to do is give DPS your Dickinson ID or driver’s license and you then receive a bike number that comes with a lock as well as a key and even a helmet if need be.

“It was very nice except for that I got a very tall bike so I couldn’t reach the pedals,” said Maggie Dougherty ’17. “But it was definitely a good way to transport myself around the town of Carlisle.”
The Handle Bar is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:00-7:00p.m. for fall 2013. For more information, visit or email [email protected]