The Provo Bicycle Collective Rolls On
The Provo Bicycle Collective has progressed as a social-melting-pot bike shop. By 2016, that social melting had already flooded out of the old space—Provo Bicycle Collective’s donation stream had been heavy and caused them to expand into a great new space more than twice the capacity for the good of two-wheeled change. BYU grad Austin Taylor is the PBC Director at the helm, with Assistant Director Kai Cox at his side. Taylor and his team are excited about the growth and services that PBC have been able to furnish for their community.
SLUG: Are you fully moved in, and are you pleased with the setup of the shop?
Taylor: Yes, we’ve been moved in for nine months, and it has taken nine months for us to set up this way. We’ve got a double-decker rack, which fits as many as 20 bicycles for sale or giveaway, and we are always receiving fixture donations from other shops.
SLUG: How did you come across this new location? Why did you choose this space to operate PBC in?
Taylor: We didn’t initially know that we could inhabit this space; however, the neighborhood board approached us and explained the options for the building and that they wanted the Collective to move in. First we had to get it rezoned for a business, and to do that, we spoke in favor of such at the town council meeting. We actually moved in that same night with help from about 20 volunteers.
SLUG: When did you recognize the need to expand? What pushed you to do so?
Taylor: Well, at two points, really: one being that on Saturdays during open shop, we would have people working on their bikes in the parking lot due to insufficient space inside, and the second was when we got a huge donation of bikes from BYU—we had them stacked literally floor to ceiling, taking up a solid third of our shop space. We now have seven work stations inside the shop, whereas before, we only had two.
SLUG: What is the most rewarding experience associated with the new space so far?
Taylor: I’m really big on output. I like seeing results. Last year, we refurbed and moved 500 bicycles into the local community, 200 of which were given away to people who really needed them to get around, and our vision for every bike that leaves here is that it’s one less car being driven around. The people who get our bikes really need them—they aren’t buying them to take out on weekends. That bike maybe means a job for that person and a healthier lifestyle. If they just got out of jail—or they are homeless and they are looking for some stability in their lives—a bicycle can be a good first step for that.
SLUG: What challenges have you encountered with the new space/move?
Taylor: Last season, we actually couldn’t keep up with sales demand. So, we have hired a full-time mechanic [Jamie Gonzalez] for this season. Hopefully, they can churn out enough bikes. If not, we will hire another.
SLUG: What new programs have you started in the last year?
Taylor: One new thing we’re doing is bike-touring classes, and we’re doing an overnight up Provo Canyon this weekend. A lot more people know about us now because of the new space, and they want to get involved.
SLUG: Do you have any programs that include the youth?
Taylor: Yes, it’s called Earn-a-Bike, and we’ve made it so that from the first day of class, they choose a bicycle, and over the course of the 10 weeks, they will clean it, re-grease it and reassemble it, and then they take it home. We offer that program to anyone.
SLUG: Do you have any pressing needs of which you would like to inform SLUG readers?
Taylor: Yes! We need more people to ride bicycles to eliminate air pollution—especially during the winter. And we can always use more volunteers, of course.
SLUG: Do you think a lot of people recognize the mental health benefits of riding a bike as opposed to commuting by car?
Taylor: I think it’s hard to describe until you actually do it. It’s something that I haven’t heard people talk about that much, but I’ve definitely experienced, and I think we should talk about it more. And the other thing I love about bicycles is that you don’t have to worry about traffic—it’s irrelevant to your bicycle commute.
In case it hasn’t shown through yet, Taylor is the real-deal bicycle crusader. After conversing with him, it’s clear that he believes that bicycles are potent tools to be used for the benefit of all humans. Stop in and check out the PBC during open-shop hours at 397 E. 200 N. in Provo, and online at bicyclecollective.org/provo.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article listed the incorrect website for the Provo Bicycle Collective. The article has been amended.