First of six bike-repair stands ready to help in downtown Urbana

URBANA — With tethered screwdrivers and wrenches dangling, a new fixture in downtown Urbana is obviously not your typical garage workshop.

Maybe the bicycle air pump gives it away.

A bright blue stand near the north end of the Main Street parking garage in downtown Urbana is the first of six bicycle repair stations that will be popping up throughout Champaign-Urbana soon.

The project is a joint venture among the cities of Champaign and Urbana, the University of Illinois and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. Officials hope the new stands will be a convenient option for bicyclists who need to make an adjustment.

Urbana city planner Rebecca Bird said people approach city officials all the time to ask where they can fix their bike.

"Having only the few bike shops that we do in town means that there are a lot of people who are far away from getting air in their tire or an adjustment to their chain," Bird said.

The first stand is already in use in downtown Urbana, and five more are expected to be installed soon:

— The Hill Street parking deck in downtown Champaign.

— Illinois Terminal.

— Parking Lot J at Green and Sixth streets, next to Legends.

— Just south of Altgeld Hall, near the UI Quad.

— Near 608 E. Pennsylvania Ave., C, by the Natural Resources Building on campus.

Champaign city planner T.J. Blakeman said he hopes the stands in city locations will be installed by today. He said each stand costs about $1,200, a reduced price after the city of Champaign approached the others to make it a joint project between the four agencies.

They have all the necessary tools attached, he said: allen wrenches, regular wrenches, screwdrivers and an air pump, among others. The station itself is a stand that holds the bike while the rider works on it.

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pangloss wrote on October 09, 2011 at 9:10 am

"Urbana city planner Rebecca Bird said people approach city officials all the time to ask where they can fix their bike."

Right...I suppose looking up "bike repair" in the yellow pages would be too difficult for these folks.

Joey Pigpen wrote on October 09, 2011 at 10:10 am

I totally agree. This has got to be one of the most rediculous waiste of money there is. This definatly raises the question "ARE THESE CITY OFFICIALS DRUG TESTED?"

opinions1973 wrote on October 09, 2011 at 10:10 am

"He said each stand costs about $1,200".. money well spent in times of finanicial crisis.. .no wonder why this country is in trouble! thrid world here we come!

Joey Pigpen wrote on October 09, 2011 at 10:10 am

I absolutely love how the repair stand is right next to a sidewalk you will get a $100 FINE if you get caught riding your bicycle on. This is sooo rediculous. Was this one person's idea or did a whole crew of genius's vote this in?

androidscr wrote on October 09, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Wow I am surprised how many negative responses this idea got. I personally think this is a great idea, being able to make a quick adjustment or repair on the road is awesome. How many phone books have you seen sitting on the side of the road so someone can look up "bike repair". As for the $100 fine, you don't have to ride your bike to the repair spot you can just walk it over, problem solved. As for the third world comment, many people have started riding their bikes to save on gas, sounds like a good idea.

whatithink wrote on October 09, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Call me stupid, but I do regular maintenance on my biked and check it BEFORE I ride away from home, where I have more a lot more tools that what hang there, and it didn't cost me nowhere near $1200. Those tools hanging there will be stolen in no time or misused. What a stupid idea.

androidscr wrote on October 09, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Things do happen while out on the road, if things didn't happen unexpectedly then tow companies wouldn't make nearly as much. As for the cost, I hardly doubt they paid $1200 just for the tools. I am sure that $1200 included the rack for the tools, the cables to attached and let's not forget installation.

Joey Pigpen wrote on October 09, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I'm guessing the city official knows the installer and supplier of the tools and equipment. This is just the dumbest idea ever. androidscr, you must be one of the city officials trying to promote the waisted idea that ignorant folk made reallity. There's 10,000 time as many vehicles.......Why not set up repair shops for vehicles? Vehicles could use an air pump and hand tools as well. I've been riding my bike almost every day for 11 years, this is a waiste of money as stated before.

Feltrino wrote on October 10, 2011 at 1:10 am

Personally, I could save a bunch of money if the city installed lifts so I could get my car up in the air to change the oil myself.

I agree with the majority, this is just plain stupid. If you rely on your bicycle as your primary means of transportation (bully to you, thanks for thinking of the environment) and you don't carry this basic tool set with you, you just aren't being very responsible. It's like setting out on a drive across the country without a spare tire. I hope some politician got a warm and fuzzy out of this one.

Fromthearea wrote on October 09, 2011 at 5:10 pm

When I lived in town almost ten years ago and biked between Urbana and Champaign for work every day these type of stations would have been appreciated. I threw chains off of my bike a couple of times riding down neil street or university myself and on one occasion walked a distance before I could get somewhere to fix the problem.
You want wasted money? Have you ever seen the courthouse in Urbana? Or that federal courthouse parking lot where the elite diner and the donut shop used to sit? There's wasted money and bad land use in my opinion. Would it kill the developers around here to think about using permeable pavers? Or what about the parking garage in downtown Champaign. There's something to go gripe about. If you don't like forward thinking I suggest you live somewhere else besides a big ten college town.

Joey Pigpen wrote on October 09, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Here's forward thinking for you. How about save the 10's of thousands of motorists 10's of millions of dollars and open up repair spots for people to work on there vehicles. You know, somewhere they can get air and water along with basic tools to do adjustments. What is your comeback "the majority of the people don't know how to work on cars."? Well the majority of the bicyclists don't know how to work on bicycles. These bikes now days have become so complex it takes a specialist to do these adjustments. This is just another example of ignorant spending. An idea that was brought to life sitting at a bar having a few drinks. The next thing you know without further realistic thinking $10,000 out the door , not to mention the added maintanence costs that we will never be notified of. You have a $1190 stand with $10 in tools that are going damaged and replaced.

Jim H wrote on October 10, 2011 at 10:10 am

Now you're just trolling... A public car lift would cost at least 100 times as much as one of these bike repair stations and would be a liability nightmare. Plus, there is always a car repair shop within 5 minutes and gas stations already provide air.
These are relatively cheap (especially for a government purchase) and can help a lot of people out. Everyone knows how to put air in a tire, and hopefully most riders know how to change a flat. The one legitimate concern I have is vandalism and/or theft, but at least they are just starting with a limited number to see how it works out.

ronaldo wrote on October 09, 2011 at 10:10 pm

If your bike breaks down while riding, ever hear of walking?

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I am still waiting for the European Trolley system that was being considered a few years ago..... I rode to work on my bike for years. If I had a flat, I pushed the bike home. Will people have a flat, or a problem some distance from the bike repair areas? They sure will. When that happens, will they push their bike to the nearest stand? Will they take their bike on the MTD to the nearest stand? Will the rider use the nearest stand for non-emergency bike repair? They sure will. Will there be a line on Saturdays of people doing bike maintenance? The tools will be stolen soon. It is a waste of money. If you can afford a bike, you can afford to maintain it. Take a course in bike maintenance; or dream that the stands will have a full time technician to do it for you.

justmetoo wrote on October 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I think this is a great idea and give kudos to Champaign and Urbana for being progressive and forward thinking. I WANT to encourage people to ride their bikes more often. Hell now I'll ride more often knowing I might be able to get to a repair rack instead of having to walk my bike all the way home when I have a problem.

The people complaining about this are morons! Tell you what, if you think installing these repair stations is a stupid idea then don't use them... then I won't have to wait on you or listen to you whine about it when I need one.

Unbelievable.

Good job C-U!!

Responsive wrote on October 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm

These new bike repair stations are outstanding! I commute by bike every day, and used one of these stations two days ago. Thanks for installing these! They will make dealing with a flat tire or other minor problem much easier (the 5 -- 10 minute walk over to a repair stand sure beats the 45+ minute odyssey of dragging a half-functioning bike all the way home), and really make bike commuting more reliable/accessible for everyone. Now can just carry a tube-patch kit (which are tiny) and be ready for about any bike problem that comes up when downtown/around campus. Seriously, thanks for making life in C-U better!!

alexb wrote on October 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm

I think "fromthearea" wrote a post that is spot-on but maybe it needs to be further explained. $1200 is a miniscule drop in the bucket ... the bucket being transportation infrastructure. His example of parking is perfect. If you don't know, it costs $1,000's of dollars for one parking space. Put it in a municipal parking garage and it more than doubles the cost of each space. What a waste. If we could just convince a few people to get out of their cars and start riding bicycles, we could spend less public funds on parking spaces.

So this leads right into my other point. For those of you not familiar with the campus area, traffic and parking are real problems. A ridiculous amount of money is spent on infrastructure for all the cars in that congested area. Compared to infrastructure for cars, bike infrastructure is REALLY cheap. Study after study shows this. Most spending on bike infrastructure saves far more in reduced need for car infrastructure. Promoting bicycling is really good for the bottom line of our cities and university. (That's without including what is does for the environment or the health and pocketbooks of those who chose to bike.) I'm not sure if this bike station is the best idea but I do know that the bar is really low. It's worth a try. We need to do everything we can to convince more people to get out of their cars. People who ride their bikes to commute and run errands are doing us all a favor and it should be supported to the utmost.

John O'Connor wrote on October 12, 2011 at 10:10 am

Unfortunately, the whiners and moaners on here are the knee jerk reactionary crowd who seem to viscerally object to any mode of transportation that doesn't involve a single person riding in a motorized vehicle, preferable a giant truck or SUV. These are the same people who seem to be angered by the mere presence of bikes on the road. They're the same ones who seem to hate the very idea of the MTD. Something about their worldview and sense of self must be wrapped up inextricably in the 1950s iconic American car culture when gas was 10 cents a gallon, when we produced most of the oil we consumed, and when we were ignorant of climate change and global warming. Anything that seems to represent forward looking, progressive, environmentally conscious, or -- god forbid -- European thinking is anathema to them.

However, they are in an increasingly shrinking minority and, thankfully, their past will not be our future.