Bikes have been around for a long time. According to a student report from the University of Florida, bicycles have been around for 200 years. Today, people are still enjoying them. Keene State College is no stranger to using bikes.
Around 2000, the Green Bikes Program was established. The program takes used bicycles, fixes them up, paints them green and sends them out to be rented at the Mason Library. Many students utilize these rentable bikes. However, many do not know where exactly they come from. Students who want to donate or get their own bike fixed for cheap, Bike Program & Sustainability Office Assistant Marcus McCarroll is the person to go to.
McCarroll has been fixing and providing the bikes in a workshop that’s located in the basement of Keddy House since 2005. McCarroll had a biking history before he worked with green bikes; he did a cross country trip from Ithaca, New York to California and biked from California to South Carolina.
McCarroll said the workshop has the best kept secret. The KSC Green Bikes workshop was once a pediatric unit. One of the basement rooms that was once an x-ray room is now a room that stores bikes to be used later.
Inside the workshop, there are around 300 bikes. 60 of these bikes are currently being used to get rented. Some of the bikes are antiques, some aren’t. All the bikes have a purpose. Even the ones that cannot be used to ride have a purpose. The junk bicycles get stripped down and some of the parts are used to fix other bikes. McCarroll calls them “frankenbikes.”
McCarroll said he receives bikes often. Every bike that is donated he checks out and/or tweaks. His work on an individual bike takes anywhere from a half hour to several days. The services he provides aren’t just exclusive to KSC students, if a local asks nicely they can also utilize his services. His workshop is even active in the summer.
McCarroll mostly fixes and creates the green bikes on his own. However, he has a few workers that help him out. The most workers he’s had was four but currently he has two. He hopes to have more student workers to help him out. However, because the workshop is not well known, and because of the hours, it is difficult for him to find students willing to work. “Nobody knows about it. If they don’t find out about it when they are a freshman they probably never will,” McCarroll said.
One of the people who works at the workshop is KSC Eco Rep Nicolas Garber. Garber said he enjoys working there and finds the services McCarroll provides to be useful. “It’s good to know that if you ever have bike problems, or even if your bike’s okay and you want to check something out, if you want to rent a bike or want somewhere to go or something to do, this is the place to go,” Garber said, “It’s easy to donate your time. It’s a fun job and it’s a perfect place for you to get your bike fixed at a really cheap price. I personally would rather go to a sustainable shop where I can reuse old parts that are still in very good condition instead of going to buy a new one. That way, I’m helping my environment and helping our Keene State students just to continue to use those bikes.”
Mason Library Access Services Manager Jeff Kazin is one of the people who coordinates with McCarroll. Kazin said McCarroll is enthusiastic when it comes to his bike work. “The program is very important to him and he really values the work, and he knows that students seem to value it very much ‘cause they use so many bikes, and there’s always that enthusiasm every time he comes in,” Kazin said.
McCarroll said he doesn’t use the old bike parts for just repairing bikes, he also uses them to create art and windchimes. He said he hopes to continue using them for artistic purposes.
He also stressed the importance of recycling bikes and bike parts insteading of throwing them away. “When you throw something away, it doesn’t really go away. There is no such thing as away. Away is an illusion. You’re not going to get an award at the end of the day for throwing away everything you get an award because you save stuff.” said McCarroll.
McCarroll is looking for more student workers and to expand the green bikes program. McCarroll also hopes to eventually get a bigger fleet. Eventually he hopes to make the biking services Keene-wide.
Katherine Glosser can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org