Bring your bike to campus!!! UCF campus is large and riding your bike is definitely the easiest and fastest way to get around. Biking in a new place can be intimidating and Orlando isn’t exactly well known for being the most bike friendly place. But there’s a great community of cyclists that have been biking in the area for years and we’re always ready to help with everything from proper locking technique to helping you plan a route to get to campus.
My bike is broken!
For repairs, you have many options. The Student Union, offers free bike repair to students and have mechanics who can show you how to keep your bike running smoothly. Currently (Fall 2013) the service is offered Monday through Thursday, from 2pm – 6pm. They have all the tools for all minor and most major repairs. There is also a vending machine in the Student Union with a selection of the most common repair needs like tubes and cables and housing but if you need parts, make sure to get them at a local shop and bring them with you. If you’re not sure what’s wrong, the mechanics there can help explain the problem and direct you to a shop to get what you need.
Spokescouncil has coordinated with the Student Union to install Fixit Dero Repair Stands several places around campus. As of February 2012, there are stands available at the bike racks near the Student Union and around the left side of the Rec Center near the stairwell. These stands have tools attached to perform many of the most common maintenance tasks. Unfortunately the pumps break often and both are currently out of commission (August 2013). We hope to get replacements in there soon! The stand allows you to raise your bike to work on it at eye level and keep it from rolling around while you work on it. Don’t know how to use any of the tools? Come to shop hours and ask a mechanic, they’ll be more than happy to help!
Some bike shops are better than others, so ask around before you go to one! The nearest shop to campus is Bike Works on Colonial. If you can’t make it to shop hours or have a major repair that SU mechanics can’t do, they’re a great shop to go to. They can also help you order parts or get a new bike or fancy accessories. If you need to bring a broken bike there, the Lynx bus system has Route 104 which you can pick up on campus and get dropped off a block away Colonial and Constantine St. Other great shops, which are farther away but good for students are Retro City Cycles, Kyle’s Bike Shop, Ace Metric Cycles, and Orange Cycle.
But riding in Orlando is dangerous!
Not true! While Orlando isn’t especially known for bike friendliness, arming yourself with knowledge of safe cycling practices can reduce your risk of injury significantly. While people don’t question the need to educate themselves on proper car driving or motorcycle riding, many think that they can hop on a bike and ride in the same traffic with no preparation. The more you know, the safer you’ll be, so safe in fact, that you can, statistically, be safer than children riding on a schoolbus! The most common causes of accidents for cyclists (in order of most to least) are riding while drunk, riding at night without lights, breaking traffic laws, and riding on the sidewalk in the opposite direction of traffic. By eliminating these behaviors, which is all entirely under your control, you can reduce your risk of a crash by more than 80%! There are many more riding techniques and practices you can learn to help you ride safely with traffic.
Spokescouncil bike rides are a great way to ride with other people who have many years of experience riding in Orlando and learn from their experience and mistakes. The Tuesday Knight Ride is a weekly ride on the Little Econ Trail which is at a good pace for any type of bike or cycling ability. This is a great starting point to learn about safe riding in groups and talk with others about riding safely in the road. The ride starts at 8pm from the Little Econ Trailhead, just west down the hill from the Lokanatosa and Alafaya intersection. For more advanced riders we also do monthly rides to downtown and have many other intermittent rides for grocery shopping or just for fun.
The Florida Bike Association has many good resources and all the pertinent statutes listed for Florida biking. They’ll even send you free guides listing the bike laws with explanations and a guide book to take you through some of the trickier situations you may find yourself in out on the road.
The greatest single resource for riding bikes in Orlando (and anywhere else, really) is the Commute Orlando blog. The blog is written by many people who have been cycling in Orlando their entire lives. They also have many good articles to keep you updated on new trails and the state of cycling in Orlando. There are excellent video demonstrations of the effective lane position and animations of turning and merging with traffic.
The creators of the blog and Orlando cycling planners have created a bicycle driving course called Cycling Savvy, which teaches all of these skills and can take someone who is new to riding to traveling safely and confidently in the roadway. These classes are offered at significantly reduced rates for students and will be starting up again in the fall once it cools off a bit.
Theft, vandalism, and rain damage
UCF has been fortunate to have very few problems with theft and vandalism. The Central Florida Future just recently reported that UCF PD operates a bait bike program to catch thieves using a GPS tracker on specific bikes. This doesn’t mean you can be lazy locking up your bike! Never leave your bike unlocked and unattended! Every theft story starts out “I only left it for a minute.” Always lock it up and always do it properly. This means using both a U-lock and cable lock to lock both wheels and the frame. Kryptonite and On Guard are good brands for locks and Amazon.com has some good deals on a U-lock+Cable lock combos.
In the event that the worst does happen, do you know your bike’s serial number? This is a number that is printed underneath the bottom bracket, where the pedals attach to the frame. Use this number to register with UCF Parking Services AND UCF Police Department. If your bike does get stolen, report it to UCF PD and if it turns up at a pawn shop or a bike shop, the chances of recovery are much higher if you registered it in the first place. Also, do your hair and makeup and have a photoshoot with your bike. Having pictures to post if it goes missing will help a lot and it’s something we never think about until after it’s gone. Having you in the pictures also makes it easier to show ownership.
The fastest way for your bike to start squeaking and creaking everywhere you ride is to leave it out in the rain. If you’re not living on campus, bring it inside your garage or apartment. On campus, there are many covered bike parking locations at the Towers and near the Libra Community. Keeping it out of the rain will greatly extend the life of your bike and keep it running smoothly. If you do start hearing creaks and squeaks bring it out to Student Union shop hours. Most of the time some chain lube clears it right up. The sooner you take care of it, the better. Leaving those things for a long time can cause damage that won’t easily be fixed with a bit of lube
I don’t have any friends to ride with!
Come out to Spokescouncil rides and events! We don’t care what bike you ride or if you don’t even have one yet. We’re always excited to have new people coming out to ride with us. If you don’t know anything about bikes we’ll teach you! If you know everything about bikes, you can teach us! If you don’t have a bike, we’ll do our best to help you find one. We always have a lot of projects going on that you can help out with regardless of your level of bike knowledge. If you have ideas of your own, we have an excellent network of contacts with different departments and other clubs on campus to help you get started.
Any more questions? Contact us! Can’t wait to see you at UCF. Have fun and ride safe!