Big Red Bikes gets state grant for expansion

Jackson French

After receiving more than $10,000 from the Paula Nye Memorial Education Grant, WKU’s Big Red Bikes program is gearing up for an expansion over the summer.

Bowling Green sophomore Madonna May, coordinator of the bike lending program, said this is the second time WKU has received the grant.

The Paula Nye Memorial Education Grant recently gave $10,569 to Big Red Bikes, according to WKU News.

May said this year’s grant is an extension of the first grant, received in 2010, which funded the initial creation of the Big Red Bikes program.

Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said the grant comes from the Kentucky Department of Transportation.

“It’s a grant that promotes riding bicycles and alternative transportation,” she said.

May said the grant is not for administration.

“It is strictly to help get more bikes out or to help get more awareness out,” she said.

She also said Big Red Bikes will use the grant money to get more bikes and to install two bike fixing stations on WKU’s campus.

“We can’t meet demand,” Ryan-Downing said. “As of today, every single bike is out and we have students asking for more.”

There is constantly a wait list for the bikes, May said.

“Because there’s so many people that don’t have cars,” she said. “This is their means around campus.”

“We’ve got 67 bikes out right now. We have doubled our fleet just since August of last year.”

She said she hopes to use the money from this year’s grant to double again.

“We were hoping to be able to eventually make it where we’d have 120 to 125 bikes,” May said.

She said that is the goal for this fall.

Wilmore junior Ben Rogers, who fixes and repurposes bikes at the shop, said this grant stipulates that they can’t purchase bikes.

“It’s a sustainable service, so we have to use old and used bikes which we get donated to us,” he said.

Rogers said the program currently has a large amount of bikes that still need to be repaired and repurposed.

He said the grant will pay for a new floor for the shop, new tools and an air compressor. He hopes this will allow him to fix donated bikes faster.

May said Big Red Bikes will also use the grant money to install two bike-fixing stations on campus, each with an air pump and all the tools necessary for minor bike repairs.

She said one of them will be on the main campus, with one on South Campus.

“They’re going to be near the Greenway so that way it’s not just for students, faculty or staff, but that will be able to help the community,” she said.

Even commuters coming by could use the stations to fix their bikes.

“We’re trying to keep them near the main bike path so that way if you get a flat on your way, that you can stop and air them,” she said.

She said the station on South Campus will be located on Campbell Lane, near the bus stop, but a location for the one on main campus has not been chosen yet.

May said she hopes to have the bike fixing stations set up and operational in a month and a much larger fleet of bikes for the program to use by the start of the next school year.