Since 2004, Eckerd College’s Yellow Bike Program has been a smashing success—communal bikes are a hot commodity when it comes to cruising around campus. In early March of this year, the Yellow Bike Program gained three new tandem bikes donated by the former campus bike shop supervisor, Dexter Howard ’10.
From 2016 to 2020, Howard supervised the Nu Bike Shop, a campus bicycle maintenance facility housed under the Nu Complex, but now he is in the process of starting his own recumbent and cargo bike company. Howard donated the tandem bikes to Eckerd for student use after purchasing them from a beach bike rental company that was retiring its old fleet of rental bikes in 2019.
Bike shop student employees then repaired the donated tandem bikes, despite the extra challenge of working on a new type of bicycle.
“Fixing tandem yellow bikes can be confusing at times, but for the most part it’s pretty much like working on two yellow bikes at the same time,” says bike shop employee Thomas Vetter, a senior environmental studies student from Raleigh, North Carolina. “They do take a little bit more time, parts and money to fix but overall are great for the community!”
Since bicycles built for two have more moving parts (including two chains instead of one), they need extra maintenance and attention. Regular day-to-day work in the bike shop entails maintaining the school’s full fleet of over 100 bikes, as well as repairs of personal bikes for students and employees. It’s open at various times Monday through Friday—when the student workers aren’t in class.
Thomas isn’t the only student involved in managing the Nu Bike Shop: Savannah Erskine, senior anthropology student from Simpsonville, South Carolina, and Matthew Bajor, a junior mathematics and visual arts student from Little Neck, New York, also assist in shop management.
“My favorite part about working at the bike shop is the sense of accomplishment after working hard to fix a student’s bike,” Savannah says. “It’s a really good feeling knowing that you helped and that you had the skills and knowledge to know how to fix it.”
Other shop staff members include several new hires, as well as alumni Bicycle Trainers Joe Opaleski ’20 and Melanie Stokes ’16. The head of the bike shop is Director of Sustainability Evan Bollier ’11, who has been excited about the introduction of these new bikes and the possibility of adding to the little fleet. “Depending on the tandem bike success on campus, we may buy some more for the fall,” he says.
A photo announcing the arrival of the tandem bikes on the @eckerdlife Instagram page received more than 940 likes, and the new rides have been spotted all over campus—enabling Eckerd students to double the sustainability and style.