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Bike groups around Pullman act as outlets for community members
Published 5/29/2013 6:00:00 AM
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As designated bike racks continue to fill, riders resort to using trees to lock up their bikes.

Improvements both on campus and in town are helping to develop biking into a safe, reliable form of transportation, including changes such as more bike racks and parking stations.

WSU’s green bike program is partly responsible for these developments, put in place to match the growing student population on campus, said Lance Jackson, manager of the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) rental shop. Jackson said he believes the rental bikes are spurring interest among students and faculty.

“Students may use the green bikes for a while and then decide they want to have their own bike with them,” Jackson said.

What originally began in 2008 as a small, seven-bike fleet specifically for University Recreation employees grew into an operation for everyone, with about 80 bikes for short-term checkout and 40 mountain bikes available for up to a week. A dozen more bikes would likely be ready for service in the coming fall semester, Jackson said.

Jackson said WSU offers more than just green bikes. The Fix It Bike Shop at the ORC provides free service for people who need maintenance on their personal bikes.

“If you know how to change a flat, you can come in and use our tools anytime we’re open,” Jackson said. “If you need help, we can do that too.”

However, the rising popularity of biking isn’t contained to campus. Bruce Hoff, service manager at B&L Bicycles on Main Street, believes the uptrend in cycling may benefit local businesses.

“If you’re riding a bike, you’re more likely to stop someplace, so businesses do better that way,” Hoff said. “People may stop in cafés more.”

Hoff is also a member of the Latah Trail board of directors and said there is a push to develop a trail between Pullman and Colfax. He is currently trying to get local representatives behind the movement.

The lack of a present trail doesn’t deter everyone though. Jason Hurdlow, public relations officer for the WSU cycling club, doesn’t mind riding on the roads without a separate trail.

Hurdlow said the club, which currently has around 20 members, will ride anywhere around the Palouse, including Albion, Lewiston and Troy.

The group is open to all students, faculty and staff at WSU who enjoy riding bikes. For those who enjoy competition, there are optional races against schools in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana. Elite racers have the opportunity to compete at a national level.

Although, Hurdlow said he doesn’t expect everyone to be a competitive racer. The club isn’t designed to breed racers, he said.

“You don’t jump on a bike one day and go sixty miles unless you’re already a stellar athlete,” Hurdlow said.

For anyone hoping to improve, Hurdlow stresses personal dedication and training in order to see positive results.

“When it comes down to it, the most important part of the bicycle is the engine,” Hurdlow said. “The engine is the rider.”

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