Craig Collins spent Monday giving away bicycles on Del Playa Drive and Sabado Tarde Road.
“A lot of people I ask are like, ‘Oh God, this guy is crazy,’ ” Collins said.
The junior environmental studies major was working on a community bike program at UCSB. The idea is not complicated: Take bikes, fix them up, paint them bright orange and let anyone who wants to, ride. When people are done with the bikes, they leave them for the next person to use. Lecture halls, Collins said, would be a good place to look for the orange bikes.
Collins, an A.S. Bike Shop employee, modeled the program from one in Portland, which at one point had 4,500 free bikes circulating throughout the city. Sophomore chemistry major Andy Rodriguez and sophomore film studies major Edward France helped Collins repair and paint the bikes.
Collins passed out 10 bikes Monday and plans to pass out four more today.
“There are more bikes on campus and in I.V than there are people. I’m tired of hearing people having to buy new bikes or lock them up because of the rampant theft on campus. My goal was to give someone a bike that usually wouldn’t have access to one or the money to repair or buy one,” Collins said. “I think it will also encourage people to ride bikes more often and get more in touch with the community. I hope people will get to know about the bikes and want to ride them to class and around I.V.”
Collins, Rodriguez and France began the program by fixing bikes that were rusty and missing parts. They went to fraternities and sororities, looking for donations wherever they could find them.
The program has cost its creators $40 for paints and ball bearings. The A.S. Bike Shop provided all the other parts and tools for free. If a bike breaks, Collins said people should bring it to the shop so it can be fixed and put back in circulation.
“Our goal is to have about 50 bikes circulating around campus by the end of the year,” French said. “While that may or may not be able to happen, we are still hoping that this program, which is the antithesis of bike theft, will illustrate the point that there is no need for people to steal bikes when they are so easy to find and repair. We have gone out of our way so that someone can just come out of class and pick up a bike and ride it the other side of campus when needed.”
Collins said he isn’t worried about bike theft because, by definition, no one can steal a free bike.
The community bike program in Portland failed after the bikes fell into disrepair. With the A.S. Bike Shop doing the repairs, Collins said he hopes orange bikes will roll around UCSB and I.V. long after he and his friends have graduated.
“The main thing I’m hoping for,” he said, “is that this program will put a smile on lots of people’s faces.”
Editor’s Correction 10/18: “Students Begin Campus, I.V. Bike Sharing Program” incorrectly associated the A.S. Bike Shop with the local bike sharing program. The bike shop is not directly affiliated or responsible for the program. It will not donate free parts or fix bikes which are dropped off, nor will it put them back in circulation. Those interested can call Craig Collins at 971-2422.