BikeHub is hitting its stride, says supervisor and volunteers
UVic’s BikeHub is attracting more students than ever after a two-year hiatus caused by COVID-19.
Peter Konczarek has been the BikeHub supervisor for one year, since its reopening under the direction of UVic campus security in the fall of 2022. BikeHub is a space for the UVic community to loan bikes and access cycling services, like storage and repairs.
In an interview with the Martlet, Konczarek said he enjoyed his first year. “It went really well. The UVic community was very welcoming. Everyone who’s come through here has been super polite and very appreciative of the program.”
In its first weeks of opening, the BikeHub was slow to attract users. However, the initial lull “was pretty much a godsend,” said Konczarek. That’s because Peter and his volunteers were “still going through all the bikes that had been sitting [there] for two years.” They needed to be checked before being loaned out to the UVic community, he said.
After word spread that the BikeHub was back in action, more people started to use the service. They loaned out around 150 bikes last year, and another 100 students and staff accessed services like tune-ups and repairs, explained Konczarek.
“Every day people are coming in for services … more people are finding out about it,” said Konczarek, who added that there are already 100 people on the waitlist to loan bikes right now.
Will Rondow started volunteering with the BikeHub in 2003 when it was still called SPOKES. During the pandemic, he worked on the bikes so that they would be serviceable for reopening.
He feels that the BikeHub is a great place to get started with cycling in Victoria. “A lot of the people that use the program are [living] in residence. They’re new to town, so it’s a great way to explore the city and get out there.”
Rondow also added that he’s happy that campus security took over the facility. “The program is better supported now,” he said. “For instance, if we need parts, if we need stuff, campus security is very quick to send someone to get our supplies.”
The space has also been made more comfortable for Konczarek and the volunteers. Better insulation and ventilation were installed in the spring of 2023, said Konczarek. “Last year it was like a sauna in here. This summer it was pretty manageable.”
Konczarek encourages students interested in cycling to come to the BikeHub for information about loans, to get a tune-up, or if they have any questions. The space is located underneath the Jamie Cassels Centre, with its doors facing the pathway near Cornett and David Strong. It is open to members of the UVic community from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Monday to Friday.
“So many UVic students are passionate about biking and have that [interest] already,” said David Evans, another BikeHub volunteer. “It’s just another great resource for them to tap into.”
Evans is in his second year of a master’s program in civil engineering, and he’s been volunteering at the BikeHub for four months. “I enjoy tinkering with bikes, so I just showed up and kept coming back,” he said.
“I think [biking] is such a great way to commute, especially in the city of Victoria. My recommendation is to be open and ready to try it,” said Evans when asked for advice to new cyclists.
Ruite Qiang is an engineering graduate student who is currently loaning a bike from the BikeHub. Qiang met Evans while studying, and Evans encouraged him to try biking in Victoria. He’s since loaned two bikes from the program, and has had some parts replaced with no charge.
“I’m telling my friends — if you need a bike, you can just go to BikeHub,” said Qiang.
For anyone needing an extra push to start their cycling journey, Go by Bike Week is set to start soon. It’s a province-wide initiative, but is organized at UVic by campus planning and sustainability. It will be taking place from Oct. 16–29. UVic’s Celebration Station — a central place for bikers to gather and enter to win prizes — will be located at Petch Fountain on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 9–11 a.m. For more information and to register a team, students and staff can visit gobybikebc.ca.