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As the newly-bedewed verdure of Cambridge in spring is overtaken by exhaust from station wagons and SUVs each year, many students have secretly hoped for a better day in the future—a day when gargantuan vehicles belching carbon monoxide are supplanted by the quiet, healthy hum of bicycle wheels.
But none has embraced this dream more fully than Cabot House staff member Timothy D. Ledlie ’02, through whose efforts the desire will come one step closer to reality this fall.
Assigned to the fair Quadrangle during his undergraduate years, Ledlie first approached that northern domain with trepidation. But now, working as an aide to Cabot House Masters Janice and James H. Ware, Ledlie will bring his love of bicycles to Harvard in a new and exciting way. His plan to open a new bike shop, “Quad Bikes,” in the basement of Cabot House will no doubt be greatly successful. Such innovative business on campus is a great boon, and Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth ’71 deserves a sincere thanks for making Quad Bikes possible with his consultation and advice.
Since Quad Bikes is to be a non-profit enterprise—all revenues will be put back into the bikes—students will not be gouged in their search for the perfect two-wheeled transport. Quad Bikes will also be a valuable source of term-time employment for students, providing an interesting alternative to hours slaving away at jobs in Lamont or a lab. It will fill their pockets in other ways, too. Biking is always a frugal choice for tight-budgeted students, but most bike shops in the area are too expensive or too distant for Harvard’s undergraduates to take advantage of them. Now, nestled right where they live and work, students will have a more attractive option.
Ledlie’s passion for bringing the joys of cycling to the Harvard community is laudable. Quad Bikes will feature a number of unconventional services, including the rehabilitation of old or broken bikes and their parts, an important money-saving step that will increase the number of functioning bicycles on campus. Quad Bikes’ stated intention to fix bikes for free and run tutorials on bike maintenance also shows that it is more committed to education and outreach than pinching pennies to meet the bottom line.
Even without these appreciated features, the very existence of an affordable bike shop on campus will be an immense service to Harvard’s students. But the struggle to get Harvard biking will not be over in September. As grateful as all students should be for Quad Bikes’ planned efforts, there is still more to be done. In addition to fixing and selling bikes, the shop should accumulate a fleet of bicycles which it can rent—at affordable cost—to those who merely want to zip across campus to hand in a paper or grab a quick lunch. And additional drop-off or pick-up locations in Harvard Square to supplement the one in Cabot basement would be convenient for students and increase revenue for the shop.
Quad Bikes is still on its training wheels. But with any luck, it will be a thorough success upon its opening this fall—a success both for its founder and for the Harvard community.
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