For three hours on Monday nights, the Provo Bicycle Collective is only open to women volunteers.
During these hours, Kira Johnson, an employee at the Bicycle Collective, leads the volunteers through bicycle mechanics and maintenance. Johnson can observe how enjoyable it is to know how to fix a bike.
“I think the women that volunteer always enjoy themselves,” Johnson said.
During the volunteer hours, Johnson and other volunteers work on taking apart and rebuilding donated bikes. These fixed-up bikes are then redistributed to community members who may not be able to afford one. Two weeks ago, the Provo Bicycle Collective was able to give away 53 childrens' bikes for free. This effort contributes to the goals of providing sustainable travel for community members.
Johnson was first approached to lead the women’s volunteer hours when she was a volunteer at the Bicycle Collective. Austin Taylor, the director of the Provo location, asked her last fall to start a night dedicated to educating women on bicycle mechanics. Johnson has since become an employee of the shop and the women’s volunteer hours were started on Jan. 15.
Johnson is a minority in the bike mechanic world, with the majority of mechanics being male. She is excited by the volunteer nights and by being able to provide the opportunity for other women to come learn about bikes and the mechanics of them. However, she is still working on getting the word out about the Monday evening volunteer hours.
The turnout for the evening ranges, Johnson said. Some nights, there are seven or eight individuals working during the volunteer hours and other nights, it might just be Johnson.
The volunteers are able to come for as long as they want and Johnson highlights that each individual comes with a different amount of experience. She said she is happy to teach to each skill level. Johnson can see that the more the volunteers learn, the more satisfaction comes with each bike they work on.
“They can see the progress,” Johnson said.
For Erin Kratzer, who was volunteering at the Bicycle Collective for the first time Monday, it was the mentality of going beyond just providing bikes that brought her in to volunteer. Within minutes of walking into the shop, Kratzer was disassembling a bike and learning about the tools used to break the rusted chains off the bikes.
The Bicycle Collective doesn’t only offer education during the volunteer hours, there are opportunities for everyone to learn about mechanics of the bike through a 10-week course and there will be a safe urban cycling class in the next couple weeks.
Johnson believes in being actively involved in the community and provide services that fits where you live. From the classes offered by the Bicycle Collective to bike valets at the Rooftop Concert Series, Johnson and the Bicycle Collective are working to provide opportunities to go beyond just riding a bike, but using it as a tool for change within the community.