St. George Bicycle Collective celebrates 1 year of ‘wildly’ successful operation

A mechanic works on a bike at the St. George Bicycle Collective, St. George, Utah, Oct. 22, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A program designed to help more people get around via a healthy means of transportation is celebrating a full year of success at its new location in St. George.

St. George Bicycle Collective, St. George, Utah, Oct. 22, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

The St. George Bicycle Collective will hold a “Birthday Celebration” at its downtown location, 70 W. St. George Boulevard, this Saturday with events planned throughout the day.

“This has been such a great success,” St. George City Councilman Joe Bowcutt said of the Bicycle Collective’s first year.

“I was pushing for that location, but I had no idea how this would all turn out. It is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Bowcutt, who was instrumental in helping the nonprofit secure its new, publicly visible spot in a building that was most recently used as a thrift shop.

The collective’s success can be credited in large part to Director Judith Rognli, who for the past year has implemented a variety of programs targeted at youth and underserved populations in addition to her day-to-day duties ensuring customers choose the right bike and get help with repairs.

St. George Bicycle Collective Director Judith Rognli performs a bike safety check at Legacy Elementary School in St. George, Utah, Sept. 26, 2018 | Photo courtesy of St. George Bicycle Collective, St. George News

“Since we opened our doors in October 2017,” Rognli said, “we have succeeded and grown beyond our expectations – and even dreams – as a self-service bike shop, a hub for community and education and a charitable organization.”

In between running the front desk and helping customers Friday, Rognli, donning a red bike-mechanic apron, explained to St. George News some of the particulars of the Bicycle Collective’s achievements. In the year since its opening in October 2017, the collective has accomplished the following:

  • Implemented an after-school bike workshop or low-income elementary school students at Title I schools.
  • Generated enough revenue to hire three part-time mechanics – the program started with Rognli as the sole employee.
  • Sponsored several bike-to-school/work days.
  • Conducted two summer camps providing in-depth training on bike repair and maintenance.
  • Helped hundreds of adults and children secure affordable, reliable bikes for transportation and recreation.

“We’ve given over 500 bikes this year, but that’s very conscious,” Rognli said. “With each bike we give out, we’re trying to give each child or adult a little bit of education, a little bit of training, a little bit of hands-on training.”

St. George Bicycle Collective, St. George, Utah, Oct. 22, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

The St. George store, which operates as part of a larger, statewide Bicycle Collective network based in Salt Lake City, functions under the mantra that bikes are a powerful tool for self-reliance, health and happiness. Integral to that mission is helping people understand that bike maintenance can be done by anyone.

“Best case, people will know how to fix their bike,” Rognli said. “Second best case, they’ll know where to go and that we’re here to help.”

While the shop’s large stock of commuter bikes, road bikes, vintage bikes, mountain bikes and kids’ bikes are offered affordably, people who don’t have the means to pay for them can earn bikes by donating time helping at the shop.

Rognli and her small team of paid mechanics represent just a small portion of the many helping hands who have made the collective a success. Rognli said more than 350 volunteers have contributed 3,500 hours of their time to the store and its programs, which she says translates to an economic value of $86,000.

The shop also relies on bike donations from the greater Southern Utah community – the majority of its stock comes from people bringing their old bikes to the store where they are repaired and then resold. Any bike is accepted, regardless of condition – bikes in especially bad condition can still be salvaged for parts.

A mechanic works on a bike at the St. George Bicycle Collective, St. George, Utah, Oct. 22, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

The Bicycle Collective has become almost entirely self-sufficient since opening. With over $60,000 raised through the bike shop alone, any grant money or donations will go entirely to programming like the after-school program implemented earlier this year.

Read more: St. George Bicycle Collective secures funding for after-school bike workshop

I addition to its ongoing programs set up in the last year, Rognli said the collective has big plans for the future with new initiatives in the works.

A youth open workshop will be launched soon, in which kids age 8-17 will learn bike repair maintenance skills using their own bike or bike shop merchandise. After learning different sets of skills, participants will advance to new levels represented by different colored aprons. Signups will be available in the shop or on its website soon.

The collective will also begin more outreach programs for underserved adult populations, creating stronger ties with support agencies in St. George like Switchpoint Community Resource Center.

“For me, it’s not just giving out bikes for transportation,” Rognli said. “It’s about being a really solid partner in dealing with mental health issues and dealing with issues facing families in poverty.”

To mark such a successful year, the Bicycle Collective’s all-day birthday celebration Saturday will include plenty of fun activities starting at 10 a.m.

Event details

  • What: St. George Bicycle Collective’s “Birthday Celebration.”
  • When: Saturday, Oct. 27. Bike sale and open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; bike ride and barbecue starts at 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: St. George Bicycle Collective, 70 W. St. George Boulevard.
  • Cost: Free and open to the public.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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