As the world drew away from daily commutes and toward socially distanced activities, the growing popularity of biking through 2020-21 speaks to the perduring relevance of biking. Many credit this phenomenon to a bicycle’s ability to transcend its primary function. While many ride bikes as a pastime, various organizations including the local Provo Bicycle Collective (PBC) are hoping to engage their communities and widen the use of bicycles as a fun, affordable and eco-friendly form of transportation.
The great bike drought of 2020 left many with few options for purchasing a new bicycle. The transportation, manufacturing and transportation challenges that plagued many industries led to wait-times lasting three to six months–and even year-long waits for some new bicycles. For many residents in the Orem/Provo metro area, the PBC presented an affordable and approachable alternative to more conventional bike shops in the area. Established in 2011, this non-profit bike shop provides low and no-cost bikes, parts and repairs with the hope of promoting bike use in the community. By accepting donations, volunteers and hosting events, the collective diverts waste and promotes community building while providing increased access to healthy and affordable forms of transportation.
In mid-june, PBC hosted an aptly named Fun Fun Underground Forest Race (FFUFR). An homage to the original mountain bikers of the 60’s, the event placed participants in a friendly race through the Timpanogos bike skills course on upcycled cruiser bikes outfitted with grippy tires specially suited for the occasion. Jumps, skids and heavy pedalling made for an afternoon of exhilarating biking on this popular local trail.
During the event, Sam Osorio, a mechanic for the PBC explained the idea behind the FUFFR. “It kind of fits our style … we work on old bikes 90% of the time. All the bikes we’re racing are donated so we have the resources for this kind of event,” he said, smiling as he watched people flying down the pump track. “Especially right now coming out of COVID, this is what everyone needs: to go out, have fun and socialize. The best way I know how is on a bike.”
Expanding on this sentiment as well as the PBC’s mission, program director, Kira Johnson explains the collective’s work. “People like the collective because we have affordable bikes that are reliable. A lot of people enter this space because they’re greeted by friendly faces so they feel like a part of a community which gives them a reason to keep coming back”.
As a student at BYU-Provo, Kira started biking because she didn’t have a car. During this time, she quickly noticed that biking provided an opportunity to get more fresh air, hear the birds on the street and talk to people at intersections. The positive physical and mental health effects Kira describes echo throughout a growing biking community that has pushed for increased access and infrastructure in recent years. With the ease of COVID restrictions, the PBC is expanding services including community classes, repairs and bike maintenance in addition to their bike shop. Visit the Provo Bicycle Collective website for additional services, hours and location information at bicyclecollective.org/provo.