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Projects Updates for Campus Bike Center

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  1. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Abbreviated work week for me and zero open hours last week. It was a good time to do some deep winter/early spring cleaning. I pulled about half the bikes out of the back of the shop and cleaned up and threw junk away, reorganized and decluttered the 2x4 storage shelves. It’s looking a lot cleaner on the back end of the shop; the front side of the shop will be handled by the student workers this week.

    Todd came and grabbed scrap over the weekend so that definitely helped beautify the shop.

    This week I’ll hopefully be able to round out the student staff schedule and the student staff manual. Builds and safety checks will, of course, continue as well.

    Thanks!

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager

     

  2. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Welcome back from break! Hope everyone had a good time with friends and family.

    The last week before break was pretty slow, as to be expected. Kevin finally finished his B-a-B, which was great. He was jazzed about it, too.

    The Bike Center doesn’t reopen until next Monday so this week I’ll be doing some deeper cleaning and reorganizing that isn’t feasible when I have to open the doors at 2pm. I’ll also be collating the student staff manual.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 47
    Sales: $171.50
    Memberships: 2 for $60
    Build-a-Bike: 1 for $47

    Thanks!

     

    Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  3. Weekly update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Last week was slow, per usual this time of year. I had a training session for two new staffers. They’ll start in the new year as they have finals this week.

    Bike count is hovering around 15-20 with a few safety checks still in the queue. A couple staffers expressed interest in morning shifts this week so if that happens, hopefully it’ll result in a few more builds being ready before winter break.

    This week I will continue work on the Student Staff Manual and will line up some new volunteer tasks since the regular items are getting ticked off the list.

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 51
    Sales: $117.50
    tire/tubes: 6 for $23


    Thanks!

     

    -        Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  4. Weekly update

    All, Visitor numbers are down, sales are down, builds are ever-creeping up: It must be winter!

    We’re only averaging a few actual work-on-my-bike visitors per day now, and I imagine it’ll get even slower the closer we get to winter break. The student staff has responded positively to the shift in shop build protocol away from piecemeal jobs and towards being wholly responsible for the bike, start to finish. I don’t think it has actually positively affected the quality of their work—yet—but they seemed more engaged and invested in the task at hand. 

    Not sure the numbers on it but I feel like I’ve had a pretty steady flow of volunteers in for either community service or volunteer memberships. Not too many volunteer duds, as most seem pretty jazzed and impressed with the space/DIY idea.

    This week I’ve got a meeting with the GM of VeoRide and separately, a TBP-UIUC meeting, as well as student staff training towards the end of the week.

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 43

    Sales: $144.50

    Memberships: 2 for $60

     

    Thanks!

     

    -        Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  5. Weekly Update

    All, Winter is upon us! Visitor numbers are still relatively high, considering the cold weather, which is a great sign. We have one student in every week who’s still plugging away at his B-a-B. Most others have abandoned them and I have had the staff reclaim them as shop builds.

     

    Last week I finished and delivered the bike that’ll be raffled off at the Staff Appreciation Week. I worked up a checklist for the future days when I’ll need the student staff to run open hours for me. Safety checked a few more bikes and worked on inventory.

     

    This week I’ll need to begin looking at reallocating space for how many shop builds we have. Most of the front area of the shop is all for-sale bikes so now we’ll need to start a row in the back.

     

    I’ll also be getting in touch with VeoRide about a possible partnership for getting more people on bikes.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 58
    Sales: $61
    Memberships:  1 for $30

     

    Thanks!

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager

     

  6. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All,  No big news for the last week. We had Thanksgiving break and were closed all last week. The week prior was pretty slow, too.

     

    Biggest news: Yesterday the shop was staffed by the student workers and they appear to have done a fantastic job. The shop is clean and organized, they tallied and tracked visitors and volunteer time nicely. No trouble. Next up will be training the staff to run hours when I’m not here in the summer when it’s really busy. I don’t have the infrastructure in place to do that yet but we’ll get there.

    This week I’ll be delivering the bike we built for Campus Recreation’s Student Staff Appreciation Week, building shop bikes, and working on documenting skills training and assessment for the student staff so that I’ll be able to better track their progress and abilities to do the job going forward.  

     

    Visitors: 45

    Sales: $101
    Memberships: 2 for $60

    Misc. used parts: 7 for $41

     

    Thanks!

     

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  7. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Slow last week, as to be expected.

    Currently have 8 bikes for sale with a couple more queued up. Should have about 15 ready to go by end of the week.

    Instead of having student workers build bikes piecemeal, this week I’ll try having each staffer be responsible for a bike—basically just a B-a-B but for sale. The hope here is that it will be a more holistic and teachable situation seeing a bike through from start to finish, just as the B-a-B program is. I tried this with one staffer last week and he was noticeably more engaged and hustling by the end, trying to get the bike done. It’ll help that we won’t have to figure out “what’s been done?” when each staffer comes in for their shift, too.

     

    This week will be building bikes, organizing, and drafting student staff training guides.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 62
    Sales: $235.50
    Memberships: 5 for $150
    Tire/tubes: 4 for $25

     

    Thanks!

     

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager

     

  8. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Last week was quite slow, as the sales numbers confirm. It’s been great to be able to keep the student staff on even as we slow down as I can train them better. Running through repairs and assembly of some of the more intricate bicycle componentry is a boon to them and myself—more skilled student workers makes for a better shop experience for all.

     

    Big news of the week: Warehouse is empty of bikes—finally! This morning I’ll head over there to sweep up the last of the debris and straighten up. Working Bikes was thankful for the donations and some of the bikes are already in El Salvador and others will make their way to Lesotho, South Africa. A big thanks to Hank, Rick, Rafael, Todd, and APO for their assistance loading bikes.

     

    This week I’ll be moving on hiring 2-3 more student workers, building bikes, ordering, inventory, and shop design/organization.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 62
    Sales: $139.00
    Memberships: 1 for $30

    Tire/tubes: 4 for $15

     

    Thanks!

     

    Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  9. Weekly update

    Associated Project(s): 

    Last week was really relaxed in the shop. I’ve been able to dedicate some time to training the student staff a little better. Having them strip and build bikes is good repetition and practice for them.

     

    Tuesday was the Bike Shipping Event, which did not go as planned. Working Bikes wasn’t able to get their big container down here so they only took 260 bikes. That was compounded by a poor showing of volunteers to help. Most of the loading was done by two Working Bikes people and myself, which was tiring. By the second half, we had 5 or 6 people to help.

     

    On Friday, Todd and I pulled about 60 bikes out of the warehouse. We should have it all cleared by end-of-week.

    I interviewed two students last week as well. I have another interview tomorrow.

     

    This week is the aforementioned job interview, as well as an iCap interview with someone from Sustainability. Mornings will be loading bikes at the warehouse and most shop hours will be spent teaching the staff more bike skills now that it’s slow.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 73

    Sales: $430.25
    Memberships: 4 for $120
    Bikes (B-a-B): 2 for $40*
    Tires/tubes: 10 for $84

    *B-a-B pricing are now itemized to reflect the cost of new parts so TBP can keep better track of stock and sales of new parts. B-a-Bs aren’t cheaper, they’re just recorded as the base price only.

     

    Thanks!

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  10. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Last week was slow, customer-wise, but busy for planning and prep. I spent most of non-open hours at the warehouse prepping bikes for the shipping event. The date for that was finalized last week as well: It will be on 10/23 starting at 9am when the 53’ trailer is due to arrive. Working Bikes will bring “several people”.

     

    I contacted the APO  service fraternity about helping with the shipping event and they expressed interest—however they cannot guarantee a designated number of volunteers, unfortunately. This week I’ll be putting the word out for volunteers on social media and TBP website.

     

    This week I will also brainstorm ideas to keep the student workers engaged and on task during the slower months as last week has already shown them to lean toward talking without working rather than talking while they work.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 73
    Sales: $825.85
    Memberships: 4 for $155
    Bikes (refurb): 2 for $265
    Tire/tube: 24 for $150

     

    Thanks!

     

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  11. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, Last week was slow. For the first hour now we’re usually seeing fewer and fewer people darken the door. It seems that we’re always busier on the tail end of open hours, from 4-6 more than 2-4.

     

    Last week I began  turning pedals at the warehouse in preparation for the big shipment. Todd from the Bike Project came and helped. He also grabbed scrap this weekend. Thanks, Todd!

    This week I’ll be nailing down the date for the bike shipment with Working Bikes and turning pedals. I’ve done 67 so far, only (roughly) 400 more to go! I’ll reach out to the student staff for some help, which would expedite the process.

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 80
    Sales: $746.25
    Memberships: 4 for $120
    Bikes (refurb): 2 for $390
    Bikes (B-a-B): 2 for $80
    Tires/tubes: 9 for $50

    Thanks!

     

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  12. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was comfortable—both weather-wise and with how busy the shop was. We saw some Build-a-Bikes walk out the door and of note, specifically, was Rafael’s. He’s from Brazil and speaks almost no English. Communication was limited to hand gestures and demonstrating how a bike part is supposed to move or operate. He finished his build on Friday and was so happy to have it done he wanted a photo with the staff.  Not all learning is language-based!

     

    First Visit Free is on a first-come first-serve basis now as we have slowed down enough to be able to accommodate small repairs some of the time.

     

    I spoke with Working Bikes last week. We have a tentative date of 10/16 set for the big shipment. I spent a good hour and a half at the warehouse organizing bikes on Friday. This week and next I’ll schedule more trips out there with Parking to sufficiently prepare for the event. Over 500 bikes will need their pedals removed and handlebars turned. 200 of those will also need their front wheels removed.

     

    Thanks to Todd for picking up scrap over the weekend.

    This week I’ll build bikes and do more warehouse prep.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 114
    Sales: $553.60

    Memberships: 12 for $360
    Bikes (B-a-B): 2 for $60
    Tires/tubes: 18 for $98

     

    Thanks!

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  13. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was steadily busy but with more minor repairs than B-a-Bs which kept things flowing nicely.

     

    New hire Hank started on Friday. Unfortunately, he’s tall so this shop won’t be friendly to him, height-wise. He’s been enthusiastic and willing to learn-as-you-go, which has been good.

    Last week I counted all the bikes in the warehouse. We’ve got approximately 504. Working Bikes is still interested but may be doing a full shipment from down here instead of carting the bikes back to Chicago. That will happen sometime next month, I believe. Details are still being ironed out.

    We also had Light The Night 2018! Barry did the counts but we didn’t sell out at Illinois/Lincoln and did at Alma.  

     

    This week I have a TBP meeting tonight and am teaching a Bike Maintenance 101 class tomorrow night from 7 – 8pm. Other than that, business as usual.

     

    Numbers:

    Visitors: 80
    Sales: $773.20
    Memberships: 14 for $420
    tire/tubes: 10 for $51

    Thanks!

     

    Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  14. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, this past week was comfortably slow. Sold out of bikes.

     

    I reached out to Working Bikes about them coming down to pick up bikes but haven’t heard back yet. Will follow up this week.

     

    I’ll also be picking up bikes from UIPD and processing them. I got a report that the pump at Altgeld/Union is on the fritz. I’ll check that out this week and see if I can get it operational without ordering any new parts. Fingers crossed.

     

    Tuesday morning I’ll be meeting with someone from the Illini Gadget Garage. They do a very similar thing to the Bike Center, except with electronics/small appliances: teaching people how to repair them.  

     

    Thursday is LTN 2018. We’ve got a record number of lights to install this year!

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 116
    Sales: $1,086

    Bikes (refurb): 1 for $180
    Bikes (B-a-B): 2 for $97.50
    Memberships: 17 for $510
    Tires/tubes: 23 for $153

     

    Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  15. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, this past week calmed down a bit. We were still busy but manageably so instead of overwhelmed. Friday’s heavy and constant rain kept visitor number low for that day. Last week I interviewed and will be hiring a new student worker. I reached out to Working Bikes about them taking a lot of our abandoned bikes as in years past but I haven’t heard back from them yet.

     

    I taught a Bike Maintenance 101 class last Monday. It went well, even if there was  low turnout. I picked up 12 bikes or so from UIPD. They’ve got another 10 – 12 for us and I’ll coordinate with them this week on that. I’ll also be finishing up some bikes so we have a few for sale, stripping some of the junkers that we got from UIPD and working on inventory as we look towards fall.

     

    The numbers:

     

    Sales: $1,586.00

    Memberships: 11 for $330
    Bikes (refurb): 4 for $695
    Bikes (B-a-B): 2 for $104.50

    Tires/tubes: 14 for $112

     

    Thanks!

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  16. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, busy, busy week, as it always is this time of year. A few members completed their B-a-Bs, sold more memberships due to the suspension of the First Visit Free policy. Very few instances of people scoffing at the price/cost of entry, as most understood that a membership is a darn good deal. At its worst we had 10 people waiting for stand time.  


    One of the student workers, Tovah, gave her 2 weeks’ notice last week, as her class schedule is too demanding for her to also work here. I’ll be interviewing/hiring a replacement ASAP.

     

    Todd helped out with picking up scrap over the weekend and Barry got the sign-in computer up and running (though it could die at any moment). Lucas and Logan (former staffers both) visited the shop on Friday and ended up volunteering, which was super awesome of them. Thanks to all four gentlemen for their help!

     

    This week I’ve got the Bike Maintenance 101 class tonight at the ARC. I’ll be building bikes (2 for sale right now), coordinating with UIPD to pick up some donated bikes they have for us, and reaching out to Working Bikes and the Parking Dept. about our annual Bike Warehouse Clean Out.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 83 (actual number was much higher; sign-in computer was down)

    Sales: $1,891.50

    Memberships: 21 for $630
    Bikes (refurb): 4 for $520
    Bikes (B-a-B): 3 for $246.50
    Tire/tubes: 27 for $136

     

    Thanks!

    - Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  17. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, busy times have arrived! We’ve mostly sold out of bikes (4 left), and been registering bikes like crazy. With a dearth of for sale bikes, we’ve got an uptick of B-a-Bs, for better or worse. The tail end of last week I officially suspended the First Visit Free option for the Campus Bike Center. Just too busy to accommodate freebies. I’ll reinstate FVF when it calms down, usually in October. I’ll add that info to the website today.

    Last week featured a lot of stern talking-tos with members about the concept of not being allowed to work on your bike without a stand. There’s a lot of pushback on it and I’ll attempt this week to emphasis the safety aspect and maybe that’ll help.

     

    Over the weekend were two outreach events: Quad Day and Illini Frenzy. Both were well-attending and well-received! I handed out a lot of registration forms and TBP hours pages.

    This week I’ll be interviewing for a potential new hire, building bikes, attending the Bike Project monthly meeting, and stripping the junk bikes we got donated last week to keep the shop as clean as I can during the busy times.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 123

    Sales: $1,677.00

    Bikes (refurb): 6 for $960
    Memberships: 8 for $240
    Tires/tubes: 19 for $83

    Thanks!

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  18. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All,

    Last week was a whirlwind of cleaning and reorganizing. On Monday afternoon a large dumpster was dropped off and on Tuesday a bunch of new furniture and cabinets came. The old furniture and cabinets went into the dumpster and the new stuff has been put in its place. On Friday a new big metal work table was dropped off to replace the smaller, broken, and less effective one. Overall, the shop is still in progress but will look a lot better shortly. Unfortunately, on Friday and over the weekend, we got 4 more bike donations, which is counterproductive as far as a clean shop is concerned but they’re good bikes that we can get

    In moving some of the computer stuff to the new desk some cables got plugged in incorrectly and this caused a major headache for the IT dept and the Bike Project. A large thanks to Barry and the two guys from F&S IT who helped right the ship.  

     

    Despite the continued construction on Pennsylvania, we were jam-packed for an hour on Thursday. We still haven’t been so busy as to require the suspension of the Free Visit policy. I’ll gauge how busy it is today and go from there.

     

    Last week I ordered the lights for LTN 2018. They should be here Wednesday.

     

    This week I will finish up the dumpster-required work and spiffy up some more. We’re starting to sell bikes on the regular and thusly stock is starting to dwindle (this is good!)  so I’ll finish up a few more shop builds this week, too.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 65

    Sales: $1,056.25

    Memberships: 7 for $210
    Bikes (refurb): 3 for $455
    Tire/tubes: 12 for $73

    Thanks!

     

    Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  19. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week seemed to pick up towards the end of the week. We had to herd people out of the shop at 5:30. Even with the street closure, people are managing to find us. I’ve taken the sandwich board sign off the trike and placed it next to the garage door facing east since most of our traffic is coming from that side nowadays. I’ll reconstruct the trike and start using it again once Pennsylvania is reopened.

     

    This week I’ll be bringing the student staff in during the mornings to help clean and purge since we’ll be getting a pan dumpster and some new furniture. The disruption won’t affect open hours, as most of the cleaning will be in the back end of the shop anyway. We’ve got a dumpster here until Friday, so the staff and I should be able to concentrate all the cleaning to the mornings and have things back to functional order in time for open hours.

     

    I think either this week or next I will be suspending First Visit Free. This past week it was already affecting usage/stand availability for members. I’ll put a bulletin on the Bike Project website alerting people to that fact when I institute it.

     

    The numbers:

    Visitors: 79

    Sales: $468.00

    Memberships: 2 for $60.
    Bikes (Refurb): 1 for $170
    Bikes (B-a-B): 1 for $56
    Tire/tubes: 10 for $50

     

    Thanks!

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  20. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, had a strong and busy finish to the end of last week. I think the student population is making its way back in advance of the new academic year.

     

    Last week I ordered the light sets for Light The Night, although a snag has just been brought to my attention. I spoke to the customer service representative at Dero on Friday and beyond his giddy reaction to the squirrel problem, he told me that they have on-order a new all-metal pump head that will withstand all the abuse (and squirrels) that our campus can muster.

     

    This week is a TBP Members’ Meeting. I’ll also work on resolving the issue with the Light The Night order, scrap more bikes in advance of the Big Clean as well as begin rounding up some volunteers to help out for the event.

     

    The numbers:
    Visitors: 87

    Memberships: 5 for $150

    Bikes (refurb): 2 for $330
    Bikes (B-a-B): 2 for $105
    Tire/tubes: 6 for $29

     

    Sincerely,

    Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

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