Bicycle Collective History

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This is the history of the Bicycle Collective.

The Idea and Founders

The concept of a Community Bike Shop was presented at a Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee (MBAC) by Brenton Chu in 2001. While it was well received, the MBAC didn't have the resources to support it. However, there were some folks attending the meeting that were interested in trying separate of the MBAC. Those individuals also found some other enthusiastic cycling advocates at Critical Mass and they all began talking.

The Salt Lake City Bicycle Cooperative was initially incorporated in 2002 by Jonathan Morrison, Edward Whitney, Brenton Chu, Brian Price, and Jesse Ratzkin. Very early in that process Brenton moved to NYC to pursue film and Jason Bultman came aboard. In talking to a lawyer about 501(c)(3) status, we found out that Utah State has a specific definition of Cooperatives that we didn't fit it. So we re-instated our articles of incorporation as the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective and officially added Jason.

Edward Whitney gathered the initial funding of $5,000 from a community friend with a family foundation. This seed money galvanized our belief that 'this' might work. We used it to pay for a lawyer and consult with an accountant. Thanks to Brian Price, who filled out everything and dealt with the lawyers, we were able to apply for our 501(c)(3) status. Prior to this point we didn't know how to pay for this so considered selling Jesse to medical science and even crazy ideas like keg parties. Jesse will be missed.

First Projects

Space, Tools and Bikes

Brian Price was living in a warehouse at the time, so foolishly he offered some of that space up for our operations. We had some personal tools that we pooled together. Even today, there are tools with yellow tape on them, those were Brian's, and the tools that have 'JM' faded on them belonged to Jonathan Morrison. While we had the basic tools covered, we still needed bikes. Using the seed money we put ads in all the local rags, Catalyst, City Weekly, Cycling Utah, etc.,... advertising a Bike Drive. We set up in parks across the city for a few weekends and totaled three bikes. However, while our paid advertisements were a wash, they did catch the eye of a Salt Lake Tribune newspaper reporter, Janet Rae Brooks. She was interested in our project and ran an article in Sunday paper.

The response to the newspaper article was overwhelming. It took three teams the better part of a weekend to drive around in pickup trucks and gather all the bikes. Brian's warehouse was now bike land.

Earn-a-Bike

Everything is connected, and that article caught the attention of Ken Perko, the Director of YouthCity. He contacted us in 2003 and asked if we would teach a class where the kids got a bike. They even had a small space at the County Rec Center at (300 E 600 S) we could set up shop in. It was a lifeguard station, so we didn't have a lot of room.

Called Bike Bonanza, the first class was taught by Keith Andersen, a frame builder from Moab with 15 years of experience; Tim Bowman, who was a Mechanical Engineer; Dr. Jesse Ratskin, in the middle of his Post-Doc in mathematics at the University of Utah (we really didn't sell him to medical science); and Jonathan Morrison, who was finishing his degree in Software Engineering. As a factoid, Jonathan didn't even know how to change a bottom bracket when this class started. Rumor has it he has since learned, but you know what they say about rumors.

To make this class extra special we wanted to paint the bikes. Someone mentioned powder coating and Jonathan called every powder coater in the phone book. Tina at Steel Coatings was not only willing to powder coat the bikes, but they also let the kids tour the factory and watch the powder coating process.

This first class was incredible and we some of the kids, now much bigger, volunteer at the collective.

Changing Faces in 2004/2005

  • Jesse Ratzkin finished his Post-Doc and moved to Connecticut.
  • Ron Ferrucci moved to Salt Lake from Connecticut to start his Doctorate.
  • Richard Hurst found us, became one of our directors, delivered ReDirect Guides by bicycle, put himself through the United Bicycle Institute, and ran the open shop (keep reading). Before leaving to work for B.I.C.A.S. he donated his tools.
  • Meara McClenahan took over for Jonathan Morrison and ran the Earn-a-Bike classes.
  • Clinton Watson became one of our directors.
  • Michael Wise became one of our directors and Treasurer for life.

Factoid: Aside from being smarter than us, Jesse and Ron both rode fixed gears, wore the same t-shirts, and had shaved heads. Freaky!

Locations

Brian's warehouse turned more into a storage unit due to accessibility and privacy. Also the space at the County Rec Center was too small, and while we had a key to the room, we had limited access to the building. So we needed another space.

Glendale Plaza

Jason Bultman found the Glendale Plaza by pedaling around and was able to negotiate an agreement with the landlord to occupy an otherwise un-usable space in return for repairs. Around this time we met an enthusiastic volunteer, Richard Hurst, who kept the shop open to the public. While the location was in the middle of a demographic we wanted to reach, it was apparently out of the way for most volunteers. We also lacked public traffic and operated at a financial loss. Our time in this space was about a year.

As fate would have it we were ready to sign a lease for $1000 per month when the property owner sold the building. The new owner had a 100% business focus, and was not interested in supporting our cause. He wanted $1,800 per month, and when we said we couldn't manage that he gave us three days to get out. Not suprisingly, years later the space has still never been occupied.

Delvie Plastics

Right around the time we were being evicted from the Glendale Plaza, Jonathan Morrison was asked to present at an Exchange Club meeting. There were only five members in attendance, but when he mentioned that we were in desperate need of space one member, Bill Delvie, asked, "How much space?"

As it turned out his son, John Delvie, was managing a piece of warehouse property and it was vacant. So we met with John, the price was right, and we signed a lease. John rides his bike to work every day the weather allows, and Bill is a seasoned cyclist that travels the world with his bike.

Factoid: We had under 20 volunteers and 3 U-Hauls move the entire shop from Glendale to South Salt Lake in four hours. By far the most efficient and amazing job in the history of our organization. We never want to do that again.

Ogden

Day Riverside Library

University of Utah

Westminster College

Funding

UDOT

Jason Bultman scored a quarter million dollar bicycle safety education grant through UDOT Transportation Enhancements funds to certify and pay LCIs to teach the BikeEd curriculum. This was a two year pilot that ran from 2006 until 2008.

Staff

  • Jonathan Morrison (2006 - 2011): Thanks to the UDOT BikeEd grant in 2006, a full-time position opened up for Project Coordinator. Founder, Jonathan Morrison, applied and was given the job, leaving full-time computer programming behind. In 2007 he was given the title, Executive Director.
  • Lacey Gaechter (2007): Intern, spearheaded membership campaign.
  • Krista Bowers (2008-2009): Americorps: Volunteer Coordinator
  • Calvert Cruz (2009): Americorps: Shop Manager
  • Krisha Marie Pessa (2009-2010): Americorps: Youth Director --> Education Director
  • Gary Hurst (2010): Americorps: SLC Shop Manager
  • JP Orquiz (2010): Americorps: Ogden Shop Manager
  • Kira Luke (2010): Valet Bike Parking Manager