the combination university and bike shop

Somewhat recently I started a new job at a large public university. My formal title is predictably lame so I gave myself the unofficial title “Anti-Car Czar.” Half the job is managing a few different programs that incentivize and help faculty, staff, and students commute to and get around campus without a car. The other half is planning and advocacy, including working with the city, to expand bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

One of the programs I manage is an on campus bike shop. We have a fleet of 300 bikes (about to be expanded 100-300 more depending on a few factors) that can be rented out for free, including for an entire year.

The shop also fixes your own personal bike, completely free. I have one full time employee (bike shop manager) and 6-10 student bike mechanics.

Currently 4 work stations and space to work on 4 bikes


truing stands

all the way in the back, on the left, is a spoke cutter.

bike storage

this sweet cannondale tandem was in the back, unloved. going to fix it up to ride with future sup.

The future plan is to build a dedicated, designed from the ground up shop next year. Already have the plans drawn up. Will cost around $1m. Very stoked.


It’s nice you get a height range to help you narrow down future sup


the third date tandem ride will be The Great Filter.


Someone else here worked in a campus bike shop (@frank_doktor? @scrub?) back in the day, also tucked back into a windowless cinderblock room. It seemed pretty cool and I was jealous.

Your job seems pretty cool too and I’m jealous.

Seems like a bike shop without a lot of the usual BS. Are there plans for a co-op type setup where students learn and work on their own bikes?

Worked at a private, but on-campus shop through college. Great memories, and looks like an awesome setup if the kids will use it. Great work.

I took a pretty massive paycut to take the job, but it’s the first time I have actually cared and believed in my work. That, plus the benefits and job security made it a pretty easy decision.

That was the original mission of the shop. Students and staff still can do this, but we’ve slowly gotten away from it, partly because the full time shop manager is less interested in teaching. It’s one of my goals to reprioritize that.


I volunteered at the bike cop in Urbana Champaign for a number of years and I think that @frank_doktor and @yummygooey might have as well.

Wow that rocks. I’ve been thinking of bike/uni proposals to pitch at my org as I try to figure out what won’t make me go insane long-term.

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Not me, I “worked” at a hole in the wall skate shop back in Rochester, NY but that was my retail excitement.

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This is amazing. Can’t believe a university is actually shelling out for this. My alma mater has an extremely limited and budget constrained (like $1k constrained) version of this. Would love to hear about how this became a thing.

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There are a lot of alternative transportation grants available right now, they could have gotten one of those

The history is pretty long and before my time, even as a student. Originially it was run out a grad student’s apartment. He’s now the head of sustainability and recycling for the entire university. I think orignially it was funding from wherever he could get it; grants, different budgets around campus, donations.

It’s now funded entirely through Transportation Services, which gets no money from the university general fund. It’s entirely self funded through parking permit fees and parking tickets. The tickets are mostly revenue neutral though, since enforcement eats up most of that revenue.

Fitting, imo, that anyone that wants to drive a car to campus, student or faculty, contributes to funding and improving access for non-car modes of transportation. It’s also great because none of our programs, nor my salary, is contingent on anything but parking permit fees. Meaning, if there are budget cuts or any federal or state funds are cut, we are unaffected.


I used to work at the Bike Co-op at UC Santa Cruz back in the day and those were the best bike times. We were independent of the university (paid rent) and ran our own little bike shop there. It’s a lot easier when the rent is cheap and the labor is free, but I’m still grateful that there were a couple of us (not me) who were responsible with the books.

I miss that kind of wrenching, though. Fixing shit you’d never fix for an hourly shop rate, teaching people to replace brake pads/tubes, getting tipped in weed. Good times. As I learned from wrenching for a living for the half decade or so after college, I was an OK and decidedly not great mechanic at the time, but the vibes were mostly good except when I was too stoned from the free weed.