Bike3A brief history of the Bike Barons

In the early days of the College’s history as a Work College Erik Hansen, Sterling’s first Dean of Work, came up with the idea of establishing a green bike program to encourage bicycle transportation. To help establish the first fleet of green bikes students were encouraged to donate a bike, which would earn them a $25 tuition credit through the Work Program. I think we ended up with about 10 bikes and launched the program. Some early bike barons were Jon Belcher and Tim Fishburne, both were very talented at scavenging bikes from dumpsters, road sides, and garage sales. As the fleet expanded we realized that the job was beyond the scope of one person and added a second bike baron position. Not only did this move increase productivity it alleviated the feeling of isolation working solo in the basement of Madison. Having bikes for intercampus encourages folks to use alternative transportation, thereby decreasing fossil fuels, as well as promote a healthy relationship with the outdoors and physical exercise.  The Green Bikes program is continuing to evolve and we someday hope to have a small fleet of quality road bikes available for trips away from the confines of Craftsbury Common.

What are Green Bikes?

There is a small fleet of green colored bicycles on campus that are labeled as “Green Bikes.”   These are designated as bikes anyone in the Sterling Community can use for intercampus transportation. Currently, we have about 20 bicycles.

Who are the bike barons? Where can we find them?

The current bike barons are Neko and Lance. They serve as the mechanics and support crew that maintain all of Sterling’s green bikes. They’re also very kind in that they will kindly fix the bicycle of any student or Sterling Community member’s personal bikes when the need arises. All repairs happen in our bike shop which is located in the basement of Madison House.

 What’s it like to be a Bike Baron?

Some people think of bike mechanics as messy, greasy and perhaps boring but both Lance and Neko enjoy their work. It is creative, fun, and (sometimes) exciting. Think about it, they get to take apart bikes to see how they work, put them together like a puzzle, construct new bikes and revive old bikes. Most recently, there was the revival of one of the tandem bikes (a two seater bike) which was joyful to support. The tandem bike has some quirks but it is a lot fun to ride. Beyond deconstructing bikes and repairing we also get to test bikes. This serves the important function of ensuring our bikes are safe for people to use, but it also a lot of fun!

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What does the future hold for the Bike Barons?

Hopefully more bikes!  But first things first…

They want to accumulate more bikes for students to take for off campus use and are currently working hard to make this a reality.  They’re working on getting the approval of the insurance company so they can trust that the program is safe for the riders and Sterling College. They’re also working on preparing a bike to be street legal in accordance to Vermont Laws, such as having a front and back light, mirror and helmet for the bike.

The Bike Barons are always looking for bikes or bike parts.  If you or anyone you know is willing to donate bikes or bike parts please contact the Barons directly: lparker@sterlingcollege.edu, nhulbert@sterlingcollege.edu, and jzaber@sterlingcollege.edu

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