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On Ya Bike, Squire!

There are many facilities and services hiding in plain sight around campus at Clayton. There’s the Monash Uni Student Theatre, there’s the Community Garden, there’s Wholefoods, Sir John’s Bar, Radio Monash, Lot’s Wife… The list goes on.

One of these valuable, little known, resources is The Bikery.

Let’s face it: Clayton is not an easy campus to travel to. Unless you live at halls, Monash is at least an arduous bus ride away, and more often the trek involves a train or two on top of that. Even if you happen to own a car, you face an exorbitant fee for parking privileges – either that or a perpetual battle over a free space down the road.

How many times have you considered the possibility of making the journey, if not more direct, then at least more environmentally friendly and interesting? How many times have you dusted off your old set of wheels, ready to ride to uni, only to stop and worry what the safest route would be, where you might securely leave your bike when you arrive, where you might take a shower before class, and what you might do if you were to puncture a tire along the way?

Luckily, our friends at The Bikery have us sorted. Tucked away at the back of the Short Courses building right behind the Campus Centre, The Bikery is a one-stop-shop for all your cycling needs – and the only one in or around Clayton at that.

Not only do The Bikery team provide a comprehensive service at minimal cost including puncture repairs, brake fixes and gear adjustments, they also distribute free maps outlining the best cycling routes to and between Clayton and Caulfield, inform you of appropriate road rules and tips, offer expert servicing advice and refer you to an external commercial business as required. You can even pick up some brand-new accessories such as helmets, pumps, lights and tubes while you’re there.

They also accept donations of used bicycles and parts, which are rebuilt and sold second-hand for an average of $60, and no more than $150. Unusable parts are recycled in accordance with The Bikery’s sustainability ethos.

With a squad of around 20 volunteers behind him, Matt Bowden is the only paid employee at the MSA supported initiative. Matt started as a volunteer himself in 2006, before taking over the reigns as manager in 2009. He has a Certificate 2 in bicycle mechanics, and takes great pleasure in recruiting and training his gang of helpers, who each put in a maximum of four hours assistance between classes every week. Anyone, staff or student alike, is eligible to register as a volunteer regardless of experience. Matt insists that basic technical problem solving skills are the only prerequisite, and recommends the venture as a stress-free way to spend spare hours on campus. It’s a fantastic alternative lifestyle for students who aren’t inclined toward more booze-related campus events, he explains cheerily.

The Bikery is funded by the MSA, and at its current level of trade turnover it generally breaks even on costs, with no resounding profit or loss recorded over the last few years. Were he to have access to more resources, Matt says he would love to increase The Bikery’s opening hours to 9-5, five days a week (currently it is open from 9:30-4, Monday to Thursday during semester). He would also like to expand the trade services to include onsite welding and cutting tools, and offer more creative opportunities for his volunteers to engage with.

In conjunction with the Monash Community Bicycle User Group (McBug), The Bikery helps to run various cycling events throughout the year – including a weekly social ride on Wednesday mornings that anyone is able to join. Matt also built and maintains the hundred-odd blue and green bikes around campus, which are available for use by staff and hall residents respectively through the Environmental Sustainability club (TOES) at Monash.

The Bikery was founded back in 2004 when the MSA employed a Transport Officer, and has been subject to several location shifts since. If you’re something of a permanent student or a long-term staff member, you may remember when it operated out of what is now STA Travel, or what is now Boost Juice, or what is now a miscellaneous office on the first floor of the Campus Centre.

Late last year it also suffered a temporary closure at the hands of the MSC, from mid-November until late December. Though a reason for this closure was never officially stated, members of the executive committee implied that the space was underutilised and that the majority of its users were staff members. In fact, around 70% of the Bikery’s stable customer base is made up of students, according to Matt.

You can follow The Bikery’s news and events by liking the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/monash.bikery, or checking out the MSA website at www.monashstudentassociation.com/Services/The- Bikery.

And of course, drop by and say hi to Matt in person if you have any questions. Just follow the signs from Union Loop Road or the Lemon Scented Lawns. So what are you waiting for? On ya bike, squire!

Hannah Barker

The author Hannah Barker

Hannah Barker has been writing strange short fiction and questionable social commentary since well before the turn of the century. Aside from a self-proclaimed penmonkey, Hannah is a traveller, a theatre geek, an Arts student, an idealist, and a raconteur. A bit of a wanker, really, but a good egg nonetheless.

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