“Biking our way to a greener future” is how volunteer Eliot Callahan describes Bikechain, a student-run facility dedicated to repairing bicycles and promoting cycling on campus and at large.

After a year in business, Bikechain, which was set up as a project of the university’s Sustainability Office, is asking for a 25-cent levy per student to help with operational costs and the expansion of its services.

The spare change from every student on St. George campus, however, would add up to about $16,000 a year in funding.

A referendum on the matter will be run by the Students’ Administrative Council (SAC) next week, on Oct. 11-13.

Bikechain co-ordinator Jenny Greenop admits that she worries about the outcome of the referendum. However, she said that Bikechain not only has a need and justification for the funding, but also has widespread support. Greenop pointed to the 5,000 signatures collected to hold the referendum.

“A lot of the money is going to be going to … general facilities maintenance,” Greenop explained. With the money, she said, Bikechain can open full-time, especially in the summer, when many more people cycle. Also planned is hiring a co-ordinator and mechanic on a part-time basis.

Bikechain is based in the basement of the International Student Centre, at 33 St. George St.. The outfit moved there this summer, into a larger, more permanent, and centrally located space.

Greenop estimated that between 10 and 30 students use Bikechain every day, its services including repairs of various degrees and general information about cycling in Toronto. According to her, several hundred students have used Bikechain over the last year.

“We would expect that … the numbers would expand” with more funding, said Callahan.

On the whole, Bikechain is about “promoting sustainable behaviour [to students] … for their whole lives,” according to Callahan. Both Greenop and Callahan strongly disagreed with the notion that, on the whole, there are more important matters than repairing bicycles, even as it concerns the environment.

“If people can defer buying a car for a couple of years,” said Greenop, then her larger goal will have been reached. With the clarification that Bikechain also teaches cyclists to repair their own bikes, she argued that Bikechain makes cycling a long-term, viable mode of transportation for those it serves.