BYU mechanical engineering student Kyle Owens volunteered at the Provo Bicycle Collective for a semester. When he came back for school after the summer, he was offered a job at the Collective as a mechanic. Owens loves his job, and hopes to one day design bicycles.
“I think biking is something that I feel like a lot of people could enjoy, but don’t,” Owens said. “It’s really fun and it’s rewarding.”
The Provo Bicycle Collective is a place where people can take their bikes to be repaired, but it’s also much more than that. The Collective is home to several different volunteer opportunities and programs that benefit Provo city.
Assistant manager Kai Cox shared some of the things the Collective has done for the Provo community, including BYU. He said the Collective has saved the city money by taking on bikes impounded by the Provo police or left by BYU students. Instead of paying to have these abandoned bikes shipped to California to be recycled, the Collective takes them in, fixes them up and finds ways to give them back to people in the community.
One of the ways the Collective filters these bikes back into the community is through different educational programs. There is a 10-week course for children ages 6 to 16 that teaches proper bike maintenance and repair. Upon completion of the ten weeks, the kids receive a bike, something that they wouldn’t be able to afford on their own.
The Collective has a similar program at the Slate Canyon Detention Center. Anybody can complete the program, and once they are out of the detention center, they can claim their bike.
Not only kids receive bikes. Volunteers can receive $10 of store credit for every hour they put in at the Collective. This store credit can be used to buy parts or a bike if they earn enough.
In order to stay afloat, the Collective sells some of its refurbished bikes. Cox said they try to give the bikes to people in need rather than selling them. Selling the fixed bikes makes the Collective a unique type of non-profit because they generate their own income.
Of course, the Collective still relies heavily on donations. The community has responded favorably and donated many bikes and bike parts over the years. However, it wasn’t always that way.
Cox recalls when the Collective first opened in fall 2012. Back then, the Collective picked up every scrap and spare part they could find, wherever they could find it. The hard work the Collective put in then seems to have paid off.
For all the good that Collective does, at the core, it is a place for people who are nuts about bikes, whether it’s riding bikes or fixing them. For Cox, fixing bikes is the best part.
“I’m just a big fan of bicycle mechanics,” he said.