For the first time in eight years, first-year international students did not receive complimentary bicycles once they arrived on campus. K-Bikes, commonly known as the Bike Barn, previously provided international students with free bicycles for the duration of their time at Kenyon. The program came to an end with the recent departure of Bob Brown who managed the Bike Barn.
Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said it was difficult to continue the program without Brown, who relocated this summer to Lewiston, Maine.
“He did 90 percent of that work,” Kohlman said. “Without him here to coordinate and manage that program, we just did not have the resources to keep it going.”
K-Bikes formerly loaned international students and language teaching assitants a free bike, helmet, lock and storage in the winter. The bikes came from the Barn’s stock of two-wheelers on hand, many of which were abandoned bikes collected at the end of each school year and refurbished. During the first three years of the program, according to Brown, the bikes were given rather than loaned to international students.
Before his move, Brown sold the bikes at an auction at the Kenyon Athletic Center this summer. The profits helped fund a $20,000 donation from the Bike Barn to Pelotonia — a local charity that uses biking to spread awareness and money for cancer research,and has partnered with Kenyon for several years.
“Bob was able to do this pretty full-time and had a lot more mechanical experience,” Sean Deryck ’18, the Bike Barn student manager, said of the loan program. “The school was okay with the liability of giving the bikes out to a ton of students, but I cannot take on that liability.”
International students are feeling the program’s absence. Ahmed Khan ’19, who is from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, said the program made transportation easier for international students, who generally are unable to bring a car to campus.
“I barely know any international students who own a vehicle, so as a means of conveyance to Mount Vernon, it was a great asset,” Kahn said. “Now, that is pretty much gone.”
The end of this program is not the only change brought about by Brown’s departure. The Barn is now transitioning from a formal bike repair shop with a full-time manager and paid interns into a student-run organization fueled by volunteers.
Despite the changes, the Barn’s day-to-day practices remain the same. Located at the corner of Wiggin Street and Quarry Chapel Road, the organization provides low-cost repairs, storage services and a refurbish and sell program. The Barn also collects abandoned bikes and sells them to raise money for Pelotonia.
The Bike Barn is still determining its regular hours, but for the time being, the group will be sending out periodic emails highlighting the Barn’s services and hours for the week.