Bike collective sees drop in use

By Isabella Bravo, Staff Writer

Bicyclists typically let their bikes rest during the winter months, but the U Bicycle Collective did not expect the drop in participation that they have experienced recently, said Weston Edwards, director of the group.

Edwards attributed the lower turnout to the group’s move in October, when the collective relocated from a temporary setup on the Union patio to a small facility in a former information booth near the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

“What are the advantages?” Edwards said with a smile. “Let’s see, we have four walls now. We don’t have to pack up the shop afterwards. We have electricity for when it’s dark. We have heat for when it’s cold.”

Edwards, a junior in mechanical engineering, said he is excited about the possibilities that a permanent location offers, such as the storage of bike parts, but he is frustrated with the lack of turnout that the facility is drawing.

Abraham Rivera, a junior in urban planning who has volunteered with the collective for about five months, said that in the new building, the volunteers mostly help people who are stopping by because they are curious, not necessarily because they are looking for help on their bikes. “It’s better being at the Union,” he said. “It’s more action-packed.”

The busiest day that Rivera has had volunteering since the relocation consisted of two bike tune-ups and answering questions from two passers-by curious about the small building.

The collective recently received about $500 from the Associated Students of the University of Utah and purchased new cables and housing for the cables.

Bikes that have sat in garages or experienced the wear and tear of salt from winter roads need these parts replaced often for brakes and gears to work properly. Edwards said he hopes that in the future, the collective will have a larger storage of parts, such as brake pads, on site. Rivera helped a student adjust his brakes last week, but he said the student’s bike really needed better brake pads, which the collective did not have on hand. A possible source for used replacement parts could be the U collective’s partner, the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective.

Although the collective’s new facility offers more storage space for on-hand parts, Edwards said he does not know if the small building will house the collective after Summer Semester. The U agreed to let the collective use the small facility for free for one year. Edwards said the future of the collective is still uncertain.

The U Bicycle Collective provides free bicycle maintenance and education on bicycle repair to U students, faculty and staff. Some of the volunteers at the collective are current or former bicycle mechanics and others are taught on site.

The collective is open Monday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

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Greg Harlow

While the U Bicycle Collective has a new booth located near the UMFA, the move has caused a drop in participation after leaving their more action packed Union location.