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Student Bicycle Club Helps Keep the Wheels Turning on Sustainability

Bike Club

Hidden in the back of Sanger College in Tabler Quad, there’s a hive of activity stirring with a collective eye on open roads and warmer days.

That buzzing “hive” is actually the shop of Stony Brook’s Freewheel Collective, a club dedicated to helping students learn how to fix and maintain their bicycles while simultaneously rescuing the castaway components in the “parts bin.”

Bike Club
Club president Mike Gurevich guides a student through a bicycle repair. (Photo: Anastasia Kobus )

Every Thursday, from 6 pm to 8 pm, a small group of student bicycle mechanics volunteers time to help teach and repair. Others come to learn the craft and work on build projects, or tend to routine maintenance and simple repairs.

“Cycling is one of the most beneficial things anyone can do for themselves, for the community and the environment,” said club president Mike Gurevich ‘22. “It’s both a form of fitness and transportation.”

Though the mission of the club is to help students learn how to fix and maintain their bicycles, there’s another form of “cycling” the club values – recycling. Supporting that mission, the club empowers students to use and refurbish old parts, thus bringing the “reuse and recycle” mantra to freewheeling fruition.

“I found this bike behind my building and I thought it needed some help,” said biomedical engineering major Joelle El Hamouche ’22 as she worked on her find at a recent gathering. “It’s my project now.”

Upon completion, the shop pros will inspect El Hamouche’s refurbished bike for safety before deeming it roadworthy, as they do with all bikes. To that end, Gurevich said, it’s a time-consuming process, but also a rewarding one.

“Students learn a lot and can take additional pride in feeling that their bike is their own creation, which it is,” said Gurevich, who became involved in the Freewheel Collective after discovering it in his junior year as an undergrad. Now a fifth-year MSTP (Medical Scientist Training Program) student, he still has a passion for being a part of the group.

The club has had a strong presence on campus since a small, environmentally-minded band of ecology grad students started it with a box of discarded bicycle parts in a Huntington, New York basement more than 15 years ago. In addition to building confidence in mechanical ability, the club offers a space for like-minded students to socialize and make friends on the basis of caring for and repairing bicycles.

A map to the shop, hours of operation and latest news can be found on the club Facebook page “Freewheel Collective.” All levels of experience are welcome.

“We are always looking for new students to come and participate,” Gurevich said. “This is the ultimate way to learn about how bikes work and meet others who share that interest.”

–Robert Emproto

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