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The new bike hub has been nearly a decade in the making and is designed to address transportation gaps in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Sean Murphy brought his gloves and boots with him when Bicycle Collective broke ground on a new hub in October 2022, so he could remember there's still a lot of work ahead for the nonprofit.

About a year and a half later, Murphy, now the former CEO of the Bicycle Collective, unbuttoned his jacket in the lobby of the three-story building to show the crowd around him that this time he had brought his “party shirt” – a festive mechanic's shirt Organizational motive.

Thursday was indeed a party for the 22-year-old organization as it officially opened its new hub location in Salt Lake City. The ceremony came nearly seven years after the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City hired the nonprofit to develop a quarter-acre site near 900 South and 300 West in the burgeoning Granary District.

“The journey here has been long, great and challenging,” said Donna Matturro McAleer, executive director of the organization. “This dream has been realized for almost ten years. This hub is the starting point for increasing our impact across Utah.”

Bicycle Collective was founded in 2002 and initially served Salt Lake City. The predominantly volunteer organization restores donated bicycles, which are then distributed to Utahns from low- and middle-income households, newly arrived refugees, the homeless or others in need. In addition, bicycles, bicycle parts and bicycle accessories are sold and the proceeds cover the costs of bicycle donations.

Many people cycle for recreation; However, McAleer points out that they are much more. In this case, they are solutions to transportation hurdles for those who cannot afford a car to get to work or a job interview, grocery stores, school or a doctor's appointment.

The organization works with dozens of community partners to determine who would best benefit from a bike. According to the group's website, over 1,300 bikes were distributed in 2023.

“We are completely focused on transportation justice,” she said. “Transportation is a significant barrier to economic mobility. … Practical and affordable, a bicycle contributes to economic well-being, emotional stability and physical health. It’s an easy, environmentally friendly transportation option.”

People look at bikes lined up in a retail area of ​​Bicycle Collective's new flagship location in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
People look at bikes lined up in a retail area of ​​Bicycle Collective's new flagship location in Salt Lake City on Thursday. (Photo: Carter Williams, KSL.com)

Although the company has grown over time to include locations in Ogden, Provo and St. George, there has never really been a central location where it could provide every service it wanted. The wheels began turning on that front when the Salt Lake City RDA offered the land for a hub in 2017, ponying up $280,000 for the land in exchange for the services the facility will provide to the community.

The RDA also agreed to a $1.4 million bridge loan, which McAleer said the organization is working to repay in order to operate debt-free. Several philanthropic donations also helped Bicycle Collective fund the multimillion-dollar project.

Salt Lake City Councilman Dan Dugan said city officials have found it easy for the city to work with the organization because of what the project offers. The new 19,000 square meter facility now serves as a sought-after flagship location. In addition to a retail space on the first floor, there is a room for bicycle repairs, but there are also rooms for courses and community workshops.

It is also located on the growing 9-Line Trail, which serves as the largest east-west trail connection within city limits, and across from the city's upcoming Fleet Block project, which will create affordable housing, commercial space and a new public plaza.

“It was a no-brainer to have her here,” Salt Lake City Councilman Alejandro Puy added.

People look at bikes lined up in a retail area of ​​Bicycle Collective's new flagship location in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
People look at bikes lined up in a retail area of ​​Bicycle Collective's new flagship location in Salt Lake City on Thursday. (Photo: Carter Williams, KSL.com)

McAleer said the new digs will allow the organization to accept more donated bikes and expand operations so those bikes can be refurbished and given to people in need instead of ending up in landfills. The building will also offer “revamped” community education programs.

That's what leaders from other organizations who attended Thursday's event were excited to hear. Jesse Sheets, acting executive director of the International Rescue Committee's Salt Lake City branch, said his organization is working with Bicycle Collective to address some of the many challenges hundreds of refugees face as they settle in Utah.

“Countless people have received bicycles that have helped them on their journey to independence and stability,” he said. “Collaborative partnerships between organizations like the (committee) and Bicycle Collective only serve to increase the availability of resources and access to opportunities.”

Anna Harden

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