ST. GEORGE — The St. George Bicycle Collective, which is one of four community bike shops in Utah, moved to its new location at 39 S. Bluff Street a year ago.
Since then, Director Michael Hernandez said the nonprofit has been thriving.
“It slowed down for a while, when COVID-19 shut everything down,” Hernandez told St. George News. “But then, as people got tired of being stuck at home, more and more people started to come in.”
And they weren’t just customers, Hernandez said, they were volunteers and cycle enthusiasts who were looking for community.
“We’re all about building community,” Hernandez said. “And helping people find parts that have become harder to find. Not only parts for older bikes, but also newer parts that are on back order at other shops.”
Kevin Payne was loading his bike into the back of his truck when St. George News visited the shop. He had just finished repairing his bike, replacing his rotors, pads and a handlebar stem.
Payne said that the lower cost is only part of the Collective’s allure.
“They also teach you how to do the repairs yourself,” Payne said.
For $5 an hour, you can rent a lift and tools, Hernandez said. If you need help fixing your bike, and lead mechanic Cory Bailey is around, you’ll be in good hands. Bailey was an auto mechanic for five years before he joined the Collective, which also offers a full repair service.
If you’re short on cash, you can elect to participate in the work-for-trade program, which provides volunteers with a rideable bike in exchange for six hours of work.
“If you need a bike to ride to work,” Hernandez said, “you qualify.”
The Collective obtains many of their bikes as donations. Those that can be repaired and put back on the road are sold at discounted rates. Those that are beyond repair get stripped down, and saved for people who need odd parts.
“Somebody donated a baby blue front wheel from an Electra bike,” Hernandez said. “An hour later, a woman came in and asked if we could help her find that exact part. When I showed it to her, she thought it was some kind of prank.”
Of course, it wasn’t. It was good luck. Whereas their neighbor, Red Rock Bicycles, is a business, the St. George Bicycle Collective is a community service.
The St. George chapter was conceived of by St. George City Councilwoman Dannielle Larkin as a school project when she was a student at Southern Utah University.
“We eventually connected with the (Salt Lake City Bicycle) Collective, and became one of their satellite spaces,” Larkin said.
Larkin said that the Collective impacts the community in many ways. It provides access to affordable, clean transportation for those who find automobile ownership an obstacle. The Collective strives to educate the community on the need for alternative forms of transportation that benefit human health. It tries to address transportation and infrastructure issues.
“It also means recycling bikes and getting them back out into the community,” Larkin said.
The Collective, which also has locations in Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden hosts several events and workshops in the community. In St. George, they host workshops at Switchpoint and Southwest Behavioral Health Center, among other locations, where they teach people how to repair the bikes they give to community members.
“Right now, we’re in the process of giving away 300 bikes,” Hernandez said. “As part of a statewide initiative, we give away road-ready bikes to underprivileged kids and people who need them to get to and from work.”
“Really,” Hernandez continued, “we just want to get rideable bikes into the hands of those who need them.”
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