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A city to serve the Quad is slowly rising in the bowels of Cabot House basement.
Two years ago, convinced that quadlings had to walk too far for late night munchies and other sundry items, the College opened up a convenience store in the basement of N-entryway.
Now, driven by a desire to win converts to what he sees as a more efficient and healthy mode of transportation, one quad resident is adding a full-service bike shop just across the courtyard.
Founder Timothy D. Ledlie ’02, an aide to Masters Janice and James H. Ware, opened up temporary shop in April after his 17-page proposal for an I-entry bike store was approved by the College Business Committee.
When students begin trickling back to Cambridge in August, they will find the aptly named “Quad Bikes” shop expanded to its full line of services, which will include repairs, tool rental and sales of refurbished bikes and accessories, Ledlie said.
Ledlie pledges to have all the services provided by a professional bicycle shop but with a student-friendly atmosphere and budget.
The shop will be the fruit of extensive research and significant past experience—which began when he was “quadded” after his first year.
Like many quad residents, Ledlie bought a bike, and fell in love. He first thought of opening the store this fall, given the free time offered by his Master’s aide position.
That thought culminated in his proposal, a detailed business plan replete with prospective contracts and potential liabilities.
According to the proposal, Ledlie has already lined up a contract for the maintenance of Harvard University Police Department’s bicycle fleet, and has met with other bike entrepreneurs—including former Harvard Student Agencies General Manager and former owner of the Bike Exchange Richard Olken—to learn the business.
He secured the Wares’ permission to use the basement space, and looked into acquiring discarded bicycles turned in by House superintendents each year.
He even went as far as to contact University officials in charge of planning for a future campus across the river in Allston, but has yet to hear back.
According to Ledlie, he overcame the biggest obstacle to University approval—liability worries—by securing a comprehensive insurance policy.
The former Computer Science concentrator has become so involved with bike culture that he is said he is now considering a career in bicycle advocacy—with the vision of having the United States resemble European countries in bicycle usage.
“People should bike more, society would benefit greatly,” Ledlie said, citing the health, environmental and parking benefits for communities who depend on bicycles.
Ledlie said he would like to see more students, employees and professors using bikes to get around.
A goal of Quad Bikes will also be to teach the Harvard community bike basics in order to avoid small problems that lead to bike disposal.
“Since they don’t understand the bikes, they treat them as toys and don’t use them to their potential,” Ledlie said.
He also said he wants to engage students as employees at the all student-run shop.
Ledlie said he hopes to attract people to apply for jobs with Quad Bikes both for the convenience of being on-campus and for the competitive pay that Quad Bikes hopes to offer.
For now, it is only Ledlie and Juan C. Agudelo ’03.
The pair said they hope to expand and have heard from several people who have visited their website (www.quadbikes.org) inquiring about services and employment opportunities.
A publicity campaign kicked into gear last week with a campus-wide e-mail to House open lists. Plans are also under way for a grand opening in Cabot this fall.
“We hope to have a barbecue, tune bikes, sell accessories, and maybe have people biking around the Quad,” Agudelo said.
Cabot House Master James H. Ware was an early convert.
“Quad Bikes is pretty spiffy,” Ware gushed.
“I hope this becomes a trend and the College takes advantage of the space available in the Quad,” Ware said. “We’d like to see more academic and cultural activities.”
“I am very impressed with all that [Leidle] and [Agudelo] have put in,” Ware said.
Quadling and bike rider Nancy S. Garland ’03 recently brought in her bike to Leidle and said that having a bike shop will help the Quad become a self-contained community.
“Quad Bikes is convenient and accessible, and it is not intimidating because they are our peers,” Garland said. “It’s really great that students are working in the shop.”
—Staff writer Maria S. Pedroza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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