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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

MacBike gets its wheels on the ground

Mac+Bike+open+house.+Photo+courtesy+of+Luna+Johnston+25.
Mac Bike open house. Photo courtesy of Luna Johnston ’25.

Upon traveling down the graffiti-laden stairs under Doty Hall, the bike shop boasts a lively, music-filled atmosphere that welcomes visitors to an upbeat atmosphere. The warmth of the bike shop, and the people involved, provide relief from the usual Minnesota cold.

Current MacBike leaders Luna Johnston ’25, Anna Jensen ’24, Ella Krumm ’25, Solveigh Barney ’24 and Lukas Lock-Scamp ’25 were all student workers in Macalester’s Sustainability Department working on the sustainability bike sharing program before they got involved in MacBike. 

“Since COVID, MacBike had kind of fallen off and wasn’t doing as much work,” Johnston said. “They had a couple of really great leaders who had a lot of good intentions, and were trying to get momentum going, but didn’t have a lot of time to invest.”

Jensen and Krumm attribute some of this lack of awareness of and activity to their location. Though MacBike has moved around, their current location in the basement of Doty has been fairly consistent over the past couple of years. However, current Macalester seniors and even juniors were in the dorms when MacBike was inactive due to COVID-19, preventing them from engaging with the club the way they might have otherwise. 

“We were kind of building from scratch,” Johnston said of the new model MacBike has taken on. 

To aid in their quest to revamp the club, they reached out to collaborate with and learn from MacBike alumni, combing through the Macalester Archives and the Macalester Alumni Directory.

“It was really fun to call up all the MacBike alums and see what they used to do,” Johnston said. “In 2002, this woman Claire recreated MacBike, she reinvented it to be social justice-oriented and feminist work that was getting students out into the Twin Cities and making biking more centered on equity and bringing women into the biking world.”

The MacBike leadership further highlighted that the culture around biking has been very dominated by white men, and that a main focus of theirs is expanding the biking community to other areas of the Macalester campus. 

“The space before was historically white men just working on their own personal bikes, so we’re trying to make this more of a fun space,” Johnston continued.

Since the spring semester of 2023, the current MacBike leadership has been working with a local bike shop, ExpressBike, located on Selby, to improve their bike fixing skills and install new benches along one of the walls of their workshop. Their collaboration with ExpressBike has been fruitful, and the staff at ExpressBike provided MacBike with older bikes to work on and improve, aiding them in working through issues faced in their repairs. 

“We painted [the walls] and built these benches this semester in cooperation with the ExpressBike shop and have just been trying to do a lot of work to make biking and bike fixing more accessible to [the] larger Mac community,” Johnston said.

Jensen and Krumm highlighted that MacBike is not trying to run a traditional bike shop, and those interested in learning more about biking and fixing their bike are welcome to bring themselves, with or without bikes, to their open shops, hosted twice a week. Though the winter weather currently prevents it, MacBike has also hosted a few group rides to help people explore the environment outside of campus.

“Instead of open shop, we would meet outside the CC and then go on a bike ride around the community,” Jensen said. “We took people to places and trails that they had never been [to] before.” 

MacBike has also been working towards holding space for those who might want to be involved, but do not know how to ride a bike. They emphasized that their space is for people of any skill level, as long as they are open and interested in learning. 

“If you don’t know how to ride a bike, [people think] you can’t be involved,” Krumm said. “A lot of people want to learn how.”

When the weather warms, MacBike plans to host more events where members of the Macalester community can learn to bike, after the success of the events held in early fall. 

“We’re just all about getting people on a bike and getting people comfortable on a bike,” Jensen said. “By the end [of the event] everyone’s on a bike, and a lot of people had never [ridden] at all before.”

MacBike also hosted an event for the “birthday” of their smoothie bike, which is exactly as it sounds: a bike that blends a smoothie for you as you ride it. 

“It was probably our biggest event to date,” Jensen estimated. “There were like 200 people there and we were trying to show people what MacBike was about.” 

Due to the state of their current leadership, with the majority of the MacBike co-leaders departing to study away next semester, MacBike will soon be turned over to two first-year students, Tomas Prendergast and Megan Chopskie. 

With this model, MacBike hopes to stay around and inspire students throughout their Macalester career to get involved with and appreciate biking. Written on the wall in the bike shop, their community norms highlight their hopes of creating a space where everyone feels welcome to come. 

“In this space we learn together,” Krumm read. “There are no instructors. We celebrate fails and fuck shit up. All bikes are good bikes. We don’t take things out of other people’s hands, and we keep our doors open.”

The MacBike shop is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.

 

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About the Contributor
Lucy Diaz, Managing Editor
Lucy Diaz '24 is a Managing Editor, from Montclair, NJ. She is a biology major with a horrifying combination of minors/concentrations that includes psychology, biochemistry and community & global health. She owns earrings that say "Be Gay do Crimes," a tiny chemistry beaker filled with d20 dice, and knows a lot about medieval european monarchy.

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    EllaNov 30, 2023 at 10:22 pm

    MACBIKE IS SO EPIC AND COOL WOWOWOW ILL DEFINITELY STOP BY SOON 🔜😋🫣🙉😘❤️♥️💙

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