Rolling in the Red Rocks: The St. George Bicycle Collective
Bike / BMX
St. George Bicycle Collective
70 W. St. George Blvd. • 435.574.9304
Since October 2017, Utah bike culture has experienced a whole new space for community growth and collaboration at the St. George Bicycle Collective (STGBC). Having started small, the Southern Utah chapter is picking up a ton of speed.
“We went from a group of five to 10 volunteers working together to fix donated bikes for the homeless population to a total of 412 volunteers, spending 4,500 hours here to help us fix 600 bikes last year!” says STGBC Director Judith Rognli. “We have great blueprints from our partner shops in Salt Lake, Ogden and Provo … and we’re ever improving as we go.”
Rognli came Stateside from Germany for her partner’s career. She found an unexpected home with the STGBC, which has thrived with her at the helm. The response from the community has been enthusiastic and supportive. “We receive very strong support from the City of St. George and other bike shops in town, the Public Health Department, Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, etc.,” Rognli says. “We’re able to sustain more than 70 percent of what we do with income from bikes and parts sold in our community bike shop. We mostly sell kids’ bikes, entry-level mountain bikes, some road bikes and commuter bikes. We run a couple of youth programs, a bustling volunteer day, a Bike Kitchen at the homeless shelter and the community bike shop with one full-time and three part-time staff.” This is on top of community rides, a Juvenile Justice Class and a Women’s Night.
“I think so many people can relate to the experience of riding a bike as a kid, the sense of independence, momentum and freedom that comes with it.”
One of STGBC’s most critical components—and a unique community service-—is their array of “ride-able” bikes available for purchase. It’s been a standard for STGBC to offer refurbished bikes that can be bought or earned via volunteer hours. “We noticed that we’re missing a segment of potential customers that are looking for bikes that cost under $100, just to get started or to ride around the neighborhood,” Rognli says. “[These] ride-able bikes are bikes we briefly checked over and tuned up so that they are safe to ride, but we don’t do any major repairs. The bikes come with an hour of free bench coaching, so people who want to get into deeper repairs can do so with our guidance.”
Rognli’s cohort has created an array of events that suit diverse riding styles, including the Trail Prom which was upcoming at the time of this interview and happened on Apr. 27. “We’ll be celebrating bikes, our trails and our community with a fun, short, social bike ride and a dance at our brand-new bike park. People will get to experience what it is like to formally dress up and go for a ride together, and they’ll be able to enjoy food, music and the bike park during sunset afterwards!”
The central mission of Rognli and her colleagues at STGBC is grounded in the shared freedom many of them associate with ridership. “I think so many people can relate to the experience of riding a bike as a kid, the sense of independence, momentum and freedom that comes with it,” she says, “but then, somehow, we lose that along the way. We like to show that it doesn’t have to be that way.”
This sense of valuing this freedom of owning a bike translates beautifully to the programming offered by the collective, including youth opportunities. “For our youth, we love to give them the ability to try out hands-on mechanical work, teach them an appreciation and understanding of all things mechanical and possibly give someone a starting point for a career as a bike mechanic.”
“The larger goal for me is to foster the Bicycle Collective as a well-known, well-functioning resource for people interested in or new to biking who might not have the tools, knowledge or courage to start riding.”
STGBC supports the growing demand for bike infrastructure beyond the standard Moab slick rock associated with the region. “The more people ride in a community, the safer it gets for everyone because of increased awareness of cyclists, including our children who ride or walk to school and are so easily overlooked,” Rognli says. “There are the elements of choice and equity. Finally, bikes are part of the picture when it comes to making our communities more sustainable and economically resilient. Bikes are not the solution but a piece in a large puzzle of creating sustainable, healthy and happy communities.”
STGBC depends on the ongoing involvement of their community via crucial volunteerism and donations. Rognli describes the workload as labor-intensive with many moving parts, so much that it couldn’t exist without the contributions of volunteers. She also credits STGBC founders Dannielle Larkin, Jack Moran, Bud Flowers, Ray Olson “and so many others who put countless volunteer hours into getting the Bicycle Collective off the ground,” Rognli says.
Community members at all skill levels and abilities have an ongoing opportunity to donate bikes, parts and volunteer in the shop and at events. As for personnel growth, Rognli has an eye on expanding the team: “We’re constantly looking to bring on new part-time mechanics and will probably soon be hiring a program assistant.” Growth on all levels appears on the near horizon for STGBC. “The biggest change we’re anticipating is moving to a new location. If anyone reading this has any connections or ideas pertinent to a new home for the St. George Bicycle Collective, let us know!
Rognli, her colleagues and the community are gearing up for these changes and looking ahead on the trail to new challenges and new terrain in which to excel. “The larger goal for me is to foster the Bicycle Collective as a well-known, well-functioning resource for people interested in or new to biking who might not have the tools, knowledge or courage to start riding.” Visit their site for more information about the St. George Bicycle Collective and their events.