You made it to campus, but you didn’t bring a bike from home, and now you are regretting that decision. Or, maybe you don’t have a bike yet.

I was at the Pit a few weeks back with the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel Hill for Cyclicious and encountered some students who needed a cheap and reliable bike to get around campus and town.

Here’s your chance: On Tuesday, September 26, UNC Transportation and Parking will hold their annual bike auction. They hold this event every year to raise funds for new or repaired bike racks on campus.

? Sign the petition: Bike safety can’t wait! Let’s pilot protected bike lanes on Cameron Avenue ?

We are asking the Chapel Hill Town Council to approve a pilot project to install protected bike lanes on Cameron Avenue as soon as possible. This pilot project will make Cameron Avenue safer for bike riders, mobility scooter users, and walkers, and help inform the development of permanent protected bike lanes.

Sign the petition here.

Where do the bikes come from?

That is an interesting story. Every year, hundreds of bikes are left behind as students graduate, or leave campus for various other reasons. I personally find it somewhat astonishing that they all just leave their bikes behind.

How good are these bikes?

Well, that is part of the gamble. Perhaps the reason why some bikes are abandoned is because they simply weren’t very good bikes to start with, or they have a mechanical problem the previous owner felt was beyond their capabilities to repair.

How do I get a bike that will work out for me?

Update: The RecycleRy connection. Volunteers from the RecycleRy will be present at the bike auction. They will provide informal consultant services to potential buyers. They will bring along their standard bike inspection checklists and provide their seasoned experienced in evaluating bikes at the auction. Look for them on the day of the event. Thanks! RecycleRy!

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Evaluate the bike as much as possible. Remember, these are not new bikes, and some common issues (like flat tires) are easily handled. If the bike just has flat tires, or needs a new tube, that is an easy fix. It is likely most of these bike will need the tires pumped up.
  2. If you do get a bike, you can take it to the ReCYCLEry, a non-profit that offers bike repair services. They also offer workshops on how to repair bikes, which are quite good.
  3. Read this article on how to evaluate a second-hand bike. If you prefer video, I recommend this YouTube video on basic bike repair and evaluation.
  4. Ask others at the auction. The auction attracts a mix of students and local bike enthusiasts who can answer basic questions.

John Rees lives in Chapel Hill. His day job is an enterprise architect for a big IT company. He was, until very recently, a member of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission and former chair. He serves on...