Some business owners in Blacksburg say Virginia Tech has overstepped its boundaries by teaching students how to repair their own bikes.
Virginia Tech calls its bike repair shop the "Hokie Bike Hub'' and says it's just trying to create a ''bike culture on campus.'' But other bike shops say that isn't so.
The Bike Barn has been a Blacksburg business for several years now and says it has plenty of loyal customers.
About a year ago, Virginia Tech opened its own bike repair shop called the Hokie Bike Hub.
Tucked underneath the Perry Street parking garage on campus, the Hub pays a bike mechanic to teach students and staff how to repair their own bikes and use a wide array of bicycle tools, too. All for free.
It's the ''free'' part that has Bike Barn owner Blake Aldridge upset.
"When you have a mechanic, and you start providing a service that is in competition with the local businesses, I kind of start to think, you know, where's the line at?” Aldridge said.
The complaint is that Virginia Tech is now in direct competition with local bike shops who live and die on sales and repairs.
At the Bike Barn, Scott Owens is one of a handful of mechanics working. Owens says he's no fan of competing with “free' anything.''
"Personally, I teach repair classes through Blacksburg Parks and Recreation and you know, it does give people the opportunity to learn some of this stuff, but at the same time, it's stealing business just flat out. If people are going [to the Hokie Bike Hub] instead," Owens said.
Virginia Tech says it doesn't have a mechanic on staff, instead it has what it calls an "alternative transportation assistant."
Either way, students like Jessie Hekl say the Hokie Bike Hub makes sense and she wants to learn to do things for herself.
"I think we have a lot of opportunities to use great tools, but they don't sell any pieces so if something actually broke, I would have to go buy something and probably go downtown," Hekl said.
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker, in an email, said "All of our local legislators have reviewed the code and concluded that [Virginia Tech] is well within boundaries of state law to provide this service."