Oxford SU will lobby the University to introduce a free bike repair system for students.
The University’s ‘Mobile Mechanic’ scheme currently provides staff and students with access to bicycle repair services from two local companies. It is free of charge and for staff only.
At a meeting on Wednesday students voted for Oxford SU to try and extend this free provision to students. The SU’s vice president for Charities and Community, Tom Barringer, will now approach the University with the proposal.
Barringer told Cherwell: “I’m very happy that this motion passed. Extending access to the University bike doctors for students is already something I’ve talked to the Estates Department about, and having this motion come up independently through Council will serve to highlight how important the issue of bike safety and fair access to bike mechanics is for students.”
Despite concerns about funding, the motion proposed by Tiger Hills and Tom Wernham passed without opposition.
Hills and Wernham told Cherwell that the motion was aiming for the “equitable treatment” of students and staff.
“Students need to travel around the city just as much, if not more, than university employees,” said Hills, “but for staff, labour costs for repairs are free, whereas students have to pay.”
The pair said such costs are especially prohibitive for poorer students. “Cycling in Oxford won’t be safe until students are riding well-maintained bikes,” Wernham summarised.
Oxford SU’s resolution forms part of a broader movement to improve cycling safety in Oxford. Last Thursday, the Claudia Charter for Cycling Safety was launched in memory of the D.Phil student Claudia Comberti, who was killed in a cycling accident earlier this year.
The initiative, which calls for a minimum of £10 per cyclist to be spent on improving cycling infrastructure, met with unanimous approval from Oxford City Council.
Cycling safety has long been a problem for the city. Based on data from 2009-2015, The Plain roundabout – which joins Iffley Road, Cowley Road, St Clement’s and the High Street, and serves more than 11,000 cyclist a day – was the second most dangerous roundabout for cyclists in the UK. The junction, which links the city centre with Cowley, has since been redeveloped.
In response to the motion, the University told Cherwell it would not extend the service to students.
“The service currently allows for students to present their bicycle to the bike mechanic, who would then provide them with advice on what is needed and a quote for making minor repairs,” it said.
“University staff receive free labour for minor repairs but must pay for all parts. The service is designed for quick checks/repairs and not for full servicing, for which we would expect University staff to use a reputable bike shop.
“The service is funded by the Green Travel Fund (staff parking charges) but due to financial and capacity constraints it is not possible to extend the free labour for minor repairs to students. The University is currently in discussions with the Oxford Student Union regarding opportunities to widen cycling support to students.”