With over 20,000 students and faculty members at Ole Miss, there will always be a traffic issue. Spending time in a near sea of people is hard to avoid sometimes.
Many students and faculty, however, have turned to bikes to ease the flow and make school commutes more reasonable. With the number of bikes on campus steadily increasing, the number of students in need of bike repair goes up as well. That’s why the Ole Miss Bike Shop has become important.
In years past, it was easy to go through college without knowing that Ole Miss provided a bicycle rental system. This was by design. This is the first year the Ole Miss Bike Shop has had the equipment and bikes necessary to handle student traffic. All it took was a sign in front of the shop and student traffic has exploded.
Stephen Valliant has been with the program since its conception. He said there is a high number of students waiting for rental bikes because of short supply.
“Before, the program only had like 20 or 30 bikes,” Valliant said, “but now, we have something like 120 bikes that we’ve revived, soon to be 170.”
Typically, these rental bikes are either donated or found after each semester.
“You can easily find 20 to 30 abandoned bikes in one sweep after each school year,” he said.
Bike rentals only cost 25$ per semester, with free maintenance on each bike rental. Valliant said what’s really exciting about the future of the rental program is the new hardware coming in. The extra 50 bikes he referred to earlier are custom Ole Miss unisex cruisers ordered from overseas.
The cause of the delay – a dockworker strike in California where the 75 bikes have been sitting in a storage bin for nearly two months now has halted unloading and shipping. The strike won’t end for months, Valliant said, but the university will have more information by January. The waiting list for the rental bikes is already well over 100.
“We already had to scrounge (for) those parts that we do have,” Valliant said. “A large portion of the parts we need, we are still waiting on.”
Servicing is free for rental bikes. However, there are charges for outside bike repairs. The money earned by the Bike Shop goes back into the department.
Valliant is not concerned about his salary. He said he cares about helping the student body and servicing people.
The Ole Miss Bike Shop is located next to the observatory on campus. Walk-Ins are welcome and encouraged.
Details can be found here.