I immediately created some extra time in my schedule and followed the arrows. Fortunately when I arrived at the door it was open and inside was Whitney Pryce. I quickly exchanged contact information and Whitney was kind enough to answer some questions I had for her regarding the shop. Enjoy!
Can you please let us know a little bit about the history of how the shop got started?The Willamette Bike Shop began in the fall of 2006 with Lindsay Selser. Her initial idea was to create a portable bike maintenance cart, which would have all the tools need to work on a bike. This quickly changed to a full blown shop with the help of the university and mini-grants through Willamette’s Sustainability council and a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation. The bike shop was able to obtain a space it the University Student Center. In the spring of 2007 the Shop opened.
Around the same time Andy Myer wanted to create free bicycle rentals for the Willamette University Community. Andy then took over the bike shop the following year (2007-2008). To execute the rental program he was able to use money from the Sustainability Council and the Oregon Department of Transportation as well from the Salem Bicycle Club. The Salem Bicycle Club helped fund a bike rack to put in front of the shop and use to store the Bike shop’s Rental bikes. The big launch of these two project was in the Spring of 2008 when President Lee Pelton and Director of Campus Recreation, Bryan Schmidt rented to first bike, a tandem.
The Bike Shop’s goal is to teach student about how to fix bikes. It is a learning process. This allows the students really understand how the bike works and allows them to be able to come to the shop and utilize the tools.
The Following year (2008-2009) I managed the shop and it progressed even further with the addition of paid staff positions. The Street Fleet Rental bike program was in full swing and in high demand. Since the rental bikes were in such a demand she decided to form a long-term rental program. This was to enable students to rent a bike for the full semester.
Along with the bike the students were given lights, a U-lock and a helmet. The bike shop also offered volunteer opportunities as well as monthly workshops to inform students about basic repairs. In the following year (2009-2010) I continued to manage the shop. The shop is also working on providing some Sanyo Electric bikes to the faculty, staff and students. This is currently being put into motion.
Let us know a bit about you. Where are you from? How long have you been riding? Are most of your bike repair skills self taught or did you learn from others?
I am from Glastonbury, Connecticut and I am a Senior Environmental Science and Archaeology double major. I have been riding since I was a kid. The summer before I started high school I began competing in triathlons, which thus brought me to my first road bike, and I feel in love with biking.
When I turned 16 I began working at a bike shop in town. Since then I have always been involved in shops and cycling. During my freshman year here at Willamette University I started the Willamette Cycling Club. We compete in collegiate races all over the Northwest as well as try to promote cycling community at Willamette University.
This the first such university/college bike shop I have seen – are you aware of others?
I know of one other university bike shop at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
What determines who takes leadership of the shop each year? Is there some sort of election? Is one person mainly responsible or are there many individuals involved?
In the past the managers were chosen because of their involvement with the project. I have been working on this project since I was a freshman and then became the manager my junior year. For next year we will be formalizing the process for picking a manager. This is due to the high interest of working at the Bike shop. Also since the shop has grown there are more responsibilities.
Does the shop sell products or mainly serve as a bike service shop?The bike shop does not sell any products except for tubes. Our main purpose is to be a service for students through helping repair their bikes. We have all the tools necessary to do the tasks and we want to show students how to work on their own bikes. So that in the future they know how to maintain their bikes and they can come by the shop and utilize the tools.
Is the shop incorporated into the curriculum at all? Perhaps related to business classes or health classes?
No, it is not incorporated into the curriculum.
How is the bike shop funded?
The shop is now funded by the university and the students have work study. When the shop first began it was funded through grants but then the university noticed the necessity of the bike shop and decided to fund the program.
Are there any special ways you promote the shop on campus?
The shop is centrally located in the Putnam University Center, so it is very visible. We also host and partake in events throughout the year.
Aqua (cycle) man: Yven Le Caer. This is my favorite bike hack. I have always wanted to swim across the English Channel but to bike across would be even better!!!!
Thanks Whitney and go Willamette Bearcats! It should also be noted that Evergreen State College has a bike shop and a project developed by one of the workers in the shop appeared in a former post about the creation of a bike nut grinder. Do you know of a campus bike shop? Feel free to comment or give us a shout out.