“Come to me with a lock and a good attitude, I’ll lend you a bike,” are the very words Bike Program and Sustainability Office Assistant Marcus McCarroll tells Green Bike users on a daily basis. Whether it’s for 10 minutes or 10 months, students and Keene community members can rent out the green cruisers for as long as they please.
A former nurse, McCarroll has been working with green bikes since 2005 and had little bike repair experience before taking the job at Keene State. A bike accident at 10 years old caused McCarroll to lose his front teeth and break his jaw in two places, but as soon as he healed up, all he wanted to do, he said, was get another bicycle and keep riding again.
In terms of his role at Keene State, McCarroll does a variety of things, but when asked to explain, he said he can describe the things he doesn’t do more quickly than the things he does. Although he doesn’t test drive the bikes, he also doesn’t pride himself in his computer skills. “I’m stuck in the 18th century here. I’ve got 18th century machinery, I’ve got handwritten notes that go back to 2015 and earlier than that.”
When it comes to the process he uses to rent out bikes to students, that too is done “in the 18th century,” as McCarroll would say. If one were to stroll down to the basement of Keddy Hall, where McCarroll’s office and workspace is located, a tall, green filing cabinet contains an enveloped file for each bike that is “out,” or not in the shop. When a bike is returned, he has to search the hundreds of envelopes in the filing cabinet for the bike’s number and document that it has been returned with pen and paper.
Not only do students and Keene community members come to McCarroll to rent out bikes, but they come to repair and even donate them as well. McCarroll even said if you wanted to build a bike from scratch, starting with a frame, that’s doable, but the biggest barriers in repairing bikes includes replacing wheels, tires and pedals. According to McCarroll, a bundle of tires used to cost about $150. However, now, he said he finds them to cost about $400 for bundle of four tires.
With the budget the Green Bike Program is given, McCarroll said it’s difficult to do as many things in the program with the lack of money. “Basically, they don’t have a lot of money to do anything with the program unfortunately. I wish there was, from every student, five bucks thrown into a kiddy and you know, we could say every year we’re gonna get [X amount of money] just to do stuff with.”
As for expenses, for example, McCarroll struggles with purchasing labels for the bikes. Each bike gets four different labels when it’s added to the fleet and available for check-out. One states the unreturned bike fine, another states Lock Your Bike Up Tight, the third states Preserve the Dignity of Our Trees and the fourth is written out by hand by McCarroll. At the time of the interview, he was down to having three labels left, which is not even enough to fully label one bike.
Junior Green Bikes employee Haley Kean has been working for McCarroll for about five weeks now in helping to repair broken bikes. Although she said she believes the program is given a lot of generous donations, she doesn’t think the program receives enough recognition from the school.
“Sometimes, Green Bikes feels like this great resource that not enough people know about, but I think and hope that’s changing,” Kean said. “I want students to know that this resource is available to them, but I want them to respect it at the same time. I’ve seen so many Green Bikes not locked up all over campus. The workers at Green Bikes invest hours into making bikes ride smoothly and it sucks when they’re not locked up.”
An avid Green Bike user, senior Gabby Pacheco began using Green Bikes as a way to get around town instead of using her car. After four years of using the bikes, she said she’s noticed that even more people are starting to use them too.
“I think this program is great. The ability to rent a bike for any amount of time, for free, is amazing, especially for college students. The program is also great as KSC makes strives to become a more sustainable campus. Green Bikes has helped in many ways. With a bike, I’m able to get to work, class and anywhere in downtown Keene in no time,” Pacheco said.
In terms of renting out a Green Bike, the Green Bikes Office is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..
As long as you bring a bike lock and are in a “good mood,” McCarroll said, you should have no problems renting out a bike.
Jessica Ricard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org