Bridging the gap on two wheels

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2000

Features Editor

When Meryl Jones was running for

president of the Troy State University Student Government Association, her platform included bridging the gap between the American and international students on campus.

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Today, she is helping to bridge that gap "on two wheels."

Meryl is heading a project to make bicycles available to international students so they will have a way to get around campus and town other than by walking.

"The idea actually belongs to Dr. Doug Hawkins, who is a member of our board of trustees," Meryl said. "He visited China and was impressed with the number of people, especially young people, who travel by bicycle. He knew that Troy State is expecting a large number of Chinese students on campus this year and he also knew that many of our international students don’t have any means of transportation. So, he suggested that we make bicycles available to them."

Hawkins’ idea and Meryl’s desire to bridge the gap between American and international students seemed to go hand-in-hand.

Through the combined efforts of the SGA office, the office of advancement and the international office, the idea is now turning wheels.

"We are asking people to donate their old bicycles to our project and, right now, we have 25 bikes that have been donated, repaired and repainted and are ready to ride," Meryl said. "We would like to have at least 50 bikes when classes begin Aug. 20."

There will be more than 200 international students on campus for the fall semester and many of them will have no means of transportation other than the bicycles.

"I know of one international student who almost never got to go off campus last year because he didn’t have any way to go except to walk," Meryl said. "Having a bicycle will make it easier to get around campus and also give the international students a way to go into town to shop, participate in community activities or just get off campus for a while."

The bicycles will be made available on a first-come basis.

"The students will be asked to sign a contract and put down a small deposit," Meryl said. "The bike will be theirs to use until they are ready to turn it back in. But, the university will not be responsible for the bike if it is damaged."

There will be bike racks on campus for the convenience and security of the bikers.

"We are excited about the project and believe it will benefit the international students," Meryl said. "We want to thank all of those who have donated bicycles and especially Geoffrey Martin, conference services, and Glen Garner of Sierra Bike Shop, who have repaired the bikes and gotten them ready for use."

Meryl said bicycles are still needed, at least 25 of them.

"If anyone has a bicycle around the house that is not being used and is in riding condition or only needs minor repairs, we would be grateful for it," she said. "We will gladly come and pick up the bikes and they will be put to very good use."

Those who don’t have a bike, but would like to make a donation to the project, are encouraged to do so.

The numbers to call to have a bike picked up are 670-3212 or 670-3608.