Law student creates bike co-op

Student project Washburn law student Robert Fitzgerald, middle, opened the Topeka Community Cycle Project, 423 S. Kansas Ave., as a place for people to learn how to bike safely. Washburn graduate Karl Fundenberger, left, and undergraduate Brandon Wentz, right, also volunteer for the TCCP.

Richard Kelly

Washburn law student Robert Fitzgerald has found many cities around the country that have bicycle projects to fit their needs. He, along with the help of many others, has now brought such a project to the city of Topeka.

The Topeka Community Cycle Project, 423 S. Kansas Ave., was designed as a place for people to learn how to maintain and prepare their own bicycle and provide them with a safe and alternative means of transportation.

It has already become home to numerous donated bicycles of all shapes, sizes and conditions. The group has agreed to a lease with Friends of the Free State Capitol Inc., which has allowed TCCP to use the building at a reduced rent. So far, the project has had two volunteer nights and will continue to have more. They are 5-7 p.m. every Thursday evening. Volunteers who want to help fix up bikes or donate bikes can do so at that time.

Knowing that some may be hesitant to bring in their tattered bicycles, Fitzgerald said he isn’t so much worried about the condition of the bike. And his ultimate goal isn’t to eliminate driving a car all together either. He just wants the option of an alternative.

“If people want to ride bikes to any capacity, we are here to support that,” said Fitzgerald. “So, if you’re a person who rides recreationally on the weekends or are a person who use it for their daily commute, we just want to make sure that people have a bicycle that’s safe for them to ride.”

Karl Fundenberger, a 2008 Washburn graduate and TCCP volunteer, made another point that reiterated the improvement of the safety of bicycling in the city.

“There’s actually a group in the city that has the money to put ‘sharrows’ on the road,” said Fundenberger. “They’re better known as ‘share the road arrows’ and this year they should be out.”

Brandon Wentz, also a volunteer with TCCP and an undergraduate from Washburn, said that a project known as the Complete Streets Movement has been working to make Topeka’s streets more accessible and safe for all people.

“The movement (Complete Streets) has committed themselves to making it so that pedestrians, cyclists, people who drive their car to work and people who ride the bus will have safer means of transit, ” Wentz said. “And I think Topeka is already making a lot of steps to be friendlier towards cyclists, not that it’s an unfriendly town to them before now.”

As the project progresses, Fitzgerald would love to see the Washburn community get active as well, stating that any groups on campus who want to get involved in the project or make a group because of the project itself are encouraged to do so. Fitzgerald also reiterated that the project is completely run by volunteers and any student can get involved, no matter how big or small their contribution is.

For now, while TCCP is continuing to grow, Wentz did have an idea to make getting to class on time a bit easier.

“There’s no effort at all in riding a bike on campus,” he said. “Parking problem solved. Get a bike.”