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Projects Updates for Campus Bike Center

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  1. Weekly Update

    All, last week was fine. The student workers are getting into the swing of things. Those that were away for the summer are remembering how everything works and that in turn makes them a more helpful. Our suspension of “First Visit Free” has been received well; most people are amenable to the membership fee, even if they only have a very small repair. Only a couple instances of people complaining and they leave unhappy but on the whole I consider it a success. We’ve had a lot of people who’ve had to wait significantly for stand time even with the membership-required policy. It’s unfortunate, but also speaks to our success and the demand for the space. I’ll count it as a positive and a negative both.

    Visitors for the week: 154

    Last Friday we had a good-sized ride from the CBC totaling about 8 or so people. This time of year is especially well-suited for riding, which I hope translates to more interest.

    Last Tuesday was the first Fix-a-Flat class that Simon and Lily ran. From the both of them, it sounded like a success. This week 12-14 people have signed up, most appear to be grad students (not a bad thing).

    This week I will continue to publicize and talk up LTN as well as print off some basic text fliers for the event to hand out in advance. Funnily enough the younglings with their smartphones have been asking for fliers for the event! I’ll build bikes and organize, per usual, as well.


    Sales (overall): $1,533.10
    Bikes (refurb): 0 for $0 (we have two for sale!)
    Bikes (B-a-B): 2 for $143
    Memberships: 24 for $720
    Tire/Tubes: 47 for $283

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  2. Weekly Update

    All, last week was a blur! According to our sign-in data, we had 277 visitors. That seems high but numbers don’t lie. We were pretty much all-stands-full within the first half an hour. Unfortunately that means some members have had to wait for stands to work on their build-a-bikes. Nothing we can do about that, unfortunately.

    The numbers:
    Sales (overall): $1,867.60

    Bikes (refurbished): 1 for $180
    Bikes (B-a-B): 1 for $46
    Memberships: 26 for $780
    Tires/tubes: 47 for $244

    This week sees the beginning of the fix-a-flat class that Lily has shepherded into existence (Thanks, Lily!). I already have told people about that to much positive interest. There also is a community ride happening in the middle of the week that I will attend. I will also help with LTN preparations this week. A couple new student workers are starting this week, too, which will be good.

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  3. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was—according to the visitor numbers—an unprecedentedly busy week. According to our tracker for visitors we had 239 people into the shop last week. I pored over the list of visitors and cut down two duplicate sign-ins from the original 241, but other than that the numbers bear out: we averaged about 50 sign-ins per day. Most must have been those looking for bikes and since we’re sold out, moved on quickly, because the shop never felt unbearably busy.

    Sales: Overall: $1,865.70; refurbished bikes: 3 for $440; B-a-Bs: 3 for $199; memberships: 17 for $510; tires/tubes: for 31 for $147.

    Yesterday was Quad Day. I think it went very well. We handed out bike registration flyers and successfully registered a few people’s bikes thanks to the iPad Lily brought. I will be interested to see how many people show up for registration stickers this week (hopefully a lot). Most people did not realize it was required to register your bike on campus.

    On Friday, Lily, Scott (from Parking), Officer Briggs from UIPD and I had a meeting to discuss theft and removal of abandoned bikes on campus. We will have a follow up meeting at a TBD date to discuss ways to streamline removal of abandoned bikes without advertising that fact to thieves and the like as well as how to better educate students about bike registration and locking technique.

    This week I will build bikes, have volunteers count and sort all the Light The Night light sets, and attend the TBP member meeting. I will brainstorm ways to expedite the registration sticker procurement process here at CBC, as last week we had a long line of people who didn’t understand (despite many announcements) that they could do the majority of the registration process on their phones beforehand.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  4. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, most notable thing last week: Everyone was very good about leaving in a timely manner. Two or three times the stands were empty and staff were cleaning up with a solid 10 minutes left for open hours. That was a pleasant surprise.

    The bulk of the LTN lights arrived last week. I will have a volunteer this week get a tally on total units received. Todd, TBP volunteer, came and picked up scrap on short notice, which was very helpful.

    Sales were good. Overall: $1,163.50; 2 refurbished bikes for $310; 3 B-a-Bs for $174; 6 memberships for $180; and 12 tires/tubes (used and new) for $131.

    This week I will build bikes, work on organization, and did I mention building bikes? There has been a strong demand for them. And while I love selling bikes, the retention rate on B-a-Bs is getting better, I think. The majority still abandon them but there have been a considerable number of people who stick with it and express an enjoyment and interest in working on bikes because of it. That’s a win in my book.

    This week I will also meet with Parking and UIPD about abandoned bikes on campus.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  5. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was fairly busy. We had a few days wherein there was extended waiting times for free stands. We had been averaging about 100 people in the space per week but this week we were at 117, and I’m sure there were half a dozen who we missed. As it nears the Great Student Migration we’ll see more and more visitors.

    Sales: Overall: $1,661.20; refurbished bikes: 6 for $860; Build-a-Bikes: 2 for $220; memberships: 4 for $120; tire/tubes (new and used): 20 for $117.

    On Friday a Bike Project volunteer and I went to the warehouse and picked up about 20 bikes for refurbishment, 3 of which were Neutral Cycle rental bikes that were mistakenly confiscated. I coordinated with their manager to return them. As I was leaving the warehouse two college-aged kids walked up asking if they could “get a bike for $10”. It was a little suspicious.

    This week I will process and hopefully build up a lot of the bikes we pulled from the warehouse. With more and more people returning to campus, demand for bikes is ramping up. On the one hand, when we are low on for-sale bikes, it curbs the entitled customer corporate/retail space idea that a lot of people have when they come here. On the other hand, less bikes available for people who want to ride is definitely a bad thing.

    I plan to deactivate our “One Free Visit For One Small Repair” policy this week, as demand for stands and space is approaching its yearly zenith. This was successful last year and was agreed upon at the last Bike Project meeting. I’ll reinstate One Free Visit sometime in October when we are no longer operating beyond capacity.

    Sincerely,

    - Jake Benjamin
    Campus Bike Center Manager

  6. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was pretty relaxed. We only had 87 visitors into the space. Our sales were: $1,072 (overall); refurbed bikes: 5 for $640; memberships: 5 for $150; tires/tubes (new & used): 9 for $38.

    This week I have a meeting with a prospective student employee. I will also scrap the deluge of bikes that have been donated. Last week we received at least a dozen junk frames/broken bikes. A rare few of these bikes are salvageable, unfortunately. I will build bikes and continue to organize, clean, and otherwise prepare for the deluge of returning students in the coming weeks.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  7. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was slow at the beginning every day of the week but by around 4pm things would pick up drastically and we’d be “All Stands Full” for the last hour or so. I used to blame the uptick around 4pm on class schedules but it’s summer so now I have no idea why we get busier then.

    Visitors count was at 100 even (for the second week in a row, I believe).

    Total sales: $1,363.10; refurbished bike sales: 3 for $430; Build-a-Bikes: 3 for $250; memberships: 11 for $330; consumables (cables/housing, tires/tubes): 27 between the four of those, totaling $85.10.

    Last week was the conclusion of having Kameron, the high school student, helping here at the CBC. He really warmed up to being here, I think (or so I tell myself) and was much more comfortable organizing and sorting small esoteric bike parts than doing anything bigger like stripping or building up bicycles.

    On  Friday I made a bike run to the warehouse and picked up 10 bikes. I saw a great number of decent and capable commuter bikes, dotted amongst the majority of WalMart-level junk. It was good to get an injection of new bike blood into the crop of bikes available here.

    I also put the final touches on the ECS bike share bikes and outfitted them with baskets.

    This week I will process and build some of the new bikes as demand for for-sale bikes is increasing. I have begun to hear back from returning student staffers about possible scheduling, which is helpful, so I will continue to plan for that.  

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  8. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was abbreviated: first by the weather on Wednesday (95° was the afternoon high, so I did not have open hours for safety reasons); and then on Friday as I was out of town for my  grandmother’s funeral. We only totaled 62 visitors for the week. Sales were $368 net for the week. We didn’t sell any refurbished bikes. We sold one build-a-bike for $43; four memberships for $120; 10 tires/tubes (used/new) for $41.

    This week I plan to build more bikes, organize parts with Kameron (the high school student), and work on scheduling for the Fall semester. It projects to be very hot the tail end of the week so I will explore options and ways of trying to keep the Bike Center from being dangerously hot so we don’t have to shutter the doors again.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  9. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week felt on the slow side but I suspect that is a false memory, as our visitor numbers were at 102. That’s about on par for this time of year.

    Sales for the week were: $795.50 overall; one refurbed bike ($210); one B-a-B ($41); one family and three standard memberships ($155); and 21 tires/tubes ($136).  Also of note: $94 in lock sales.

    Last week I had Kameron, the high schooler, come in again. He has really taken to organizing and his efforts are paying off. The shop is overall still a mess, but the small parts are being meticulously organized which helps everyone find what they’re looking for—used parts-wise—that much faster. He will be joining me a couple days this week in the mornings as well.

    We had another Friday Community Ride organized by the student staffers. It went well; we rode to the Urbana First Friday event.

    This week I plan to process the donations we received over the weekend here, work with Kameron in the mornings on organizing and scrapping some of the junk that is cluttering up the space, and build more bikes.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  10. Funding Letter - Bike Maintenance Instructor

    Since 2010, The Bike Project has been collaborating with the University of Illinois to provide an educational space on campus. Bicycle education taught through that space encourages the campus community to ride bicycles for transportation because the bicycles sold and worked on at the Campus Bike Center are reliable and safe. While some people are willing to volunteer to teach advanced level bicycle repair classes at the Bike Center, few are willing to teach very basic entry-level classes addressing such issues as adjusting brakes, lubricating chains, and fixing flat tires. This project funds two semesters of stipend for an instructor to teach classes at the Bike Center covering these topics. Combined class capacity over the two semesters would exceed 200 new cyclists. This proposal directly funds: 1) Two semesters of labor for a beginner-level bicycle class.

  11. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was uneventful—in a good way. People came, worked on their bikes and/or purchased one, and then left. We had 123 visitors. We netted $1,226.60. We sold: 5 bikes for $640; 1 Build-a-Bike for $84; 6 memberships for $180; 16 tires/tubes/wheels for $111.

    Last week we had what felt like a surplus of volunteers—and inexperienced ones at that. I think at one point there were 8 people in the shop, all staff/volunteers. I will have to do a better job of creating manageable tasks for unskilled labor.

    One longtime member of the Bike Project came by last week to bid farewell, as he got a job in Washington state. He was very thankful for what we do at CBC/TBP and expressed concern over finding a place in Washington as nice and helpful as we are. In parting, he donated some nice studded winter tires since, as he said, it doesn’t snow in the pacific northwest.

    This week I will tackle establishing a manageable system for organizing the pile of bikes in the back. I think sorting by “Starting Price” would be useful, since that is always the first question asked. It would speed up the process and save me some of the anxiety of people pawing around in a potentially dangerous pile of bikes. This week, I will also create more zero-bike-knowledge tasks that volunteers can accomplish without me having to explain the esoterica of bike “standards”. And, of course, bikes will be built.

    Sincerely,

    Jake Benjamin

    Campus Bike Center Manage

  12. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was the first steadily and surely busy week we’ve had this summer. Within the first hour or so we were at capacity stand-wise all five days last week. We had 119 visitors and there were probably a dozen or so more people that we missed.

    Our sales for the week: Grossed $799.50; sold 10 memberships for $300; one refurbished bike for $50; 21 tires/tubes (new and used) for $113. While those numbers belie the visitors count, we did have a good amount of used cables/parts sales, indicating a healthy usage of the space that simply doesn’t translate into high dollar amounts. It probably didn’t help that most of our medium-sized stock of refurbished bikes has already sold out, leaving our small and large bikes only. That will be a focus for the coming week as far as shop builds are concerned.

    Last Friday we had the Full Moon Bicycle Ride, a community social ride that I heavily advertised and promoted—so much so that a few people thought the Bike Project/University was sponsoring it. Rough conservative estimates tallied 160 or so people, so it was probably closer to 200. It was an affirming experience to see so many people coming out for such an event and really speaks to the strong presence of cycling in Champaign-Urbana. I lost count of how many people I recognized as visitors to the Campus Bike Center. Impressive, too, was how many folks were not decked out in full-on cycling gear but instead riding commuter-level bikes in the same clothes in which you’d walk your dog. That speaks strongly to the normalization of riding a bicycle and a good sign for the growth of the mode share.

    The temperature is projected to be in the 90s all week and so I will bring out the big water cooler, fill it with ice and be diligent in telling all visitors to stay hydrated while here. I will build more medium-sized bikes this week as well as continue to free up space by scrapping more old and abused-beyond-repair bikes and parts.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  13. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hello all,

    Last week was reasonably busy. We had 112 visitors. We totaled $638.10 in sales. We sold six memberships for $180; one refurbished bike for $80; one Build-a-Bike for $48; and $101 in both new and used tires/tubes.

    New student hire Dennis started working last week. As a longtime member, he is familiar enough with everything that he’s been able to help right out the gate, which has been great. Additionally, Friday was Logan’s last day.

    This week I will work on student worker scheduling for the summer, strip more old junk bikes that are taking up valuable space, stock all the new parts that arrived last week, attend the Bike Project meeting, and of course, build more bikes.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  14. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All,

    Last week was steady and manageable. We had one or two days of almost no one coming in and days of the summer average of 20 or so people through the human door. Our visitor total for the week was 92.

    We grossed $1,243.81. We sold seven memberships for $210; two refurbished bikes for $385; one build-a-bike for $89; 16 tires and tubes for $73.

    The Bike Project has decided to add a weekday open hours shift on Wednesday evenings for their Urbana location, which was mentioned at the Monthly Members’ Meeting on Wednesday. This will in turn allow those who utilize the CBC an additional resource for working on bikes. On Friday I met Parking out at the warehouse and picked up 16 or so bikes--of which half were worth the effort to rehab or store for B-a-Bs. The rest were promptly taken to the scrap yard on Friday afternoon.

    This week Evan, a new student hire, is going to start working (albeit not daily, due to school conflicts). While it hasn’t been too busy for just Leah and me to handle, having another person around and the chance to train a new staffer when it is slow is definitely a plus.

    This week I will also be working on creating some more wheel storage in the back garage bays. Bike builds and organization will occur per usual. One of the main tables that are home to our truing stands and our vice is falling apart. I will look into procuring a new one from Surplus this week as well.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  15. Weekly Update

    All, last week we totaled 99 visitors to the Campus Bike Center (I blame the rain). Our sales were at $1,104. We sold one Build-a-Bike; three refurbished bikes for $570; five memberships for $150; $102  in tires/tubes; and $93 in locks.

    Beyond the numbers, last week was a doozy! We had Bike To Work Day on Tuesday and it was a great success. While I haven’t heard any official numbers, I estimated about 50 or so people at our station. There were 400 official registrants online as of 6am the morning of BTWD. And of course, the chilly and windy weather probably kept a few people home. Lorenzo, a CBC staffer, was interviewed for a Fox Illinois news piece during the event.

    On Wednesday we had a CBC staff meeting/pizza party. 7/8ths of the CBC student staffers were able to make it and we had a  good discussion and reflection on the experiences of working at the Campus Bike Center and how we can improve looking towards the future of the Center.


    On a sad note, Friday I got news that staffer extraordinaire Logan will not be able to work at the CBC this summer, as he’s taking a job up in Minnesota. I will have to scramble a bit to find his replacement (an impossible task, given his skills and familiarity with the Center).

    This week I will be interviewing for summer help, building bikes, checking on our Housing donation racks, and juggling all the weird finals scheduling mess that throws off everyone’s normal shifts for working here.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  16. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was oddly slow at times. We had 110 visitors.  We grossed $956.60. We sold eight memberships for $275; one refurbished bike for $70; one build-a-bike for $96;  and $144 in tires/tubes.

    Last week I prepped for Bike To Work Day, attended a Bike Project Meeting, built bikes and helped organize an end-of-semester lunch get-together for CBC staffers and the TDM team. I spoke with a Parking employee and he expressed a great interest and appreciation for the Housing bike rack program and as of last week we’ve got one donated bike, but again, it’s still well before graduation.  

    I have been getting a lot of questions about summer hours at the Campus Bike Center, which is a little disconcerting for our publicity and visibility on campus. But then again, can’t fault people for being on the academic calendar at a University.

    On this week’s agenda is Bike To Work Day, which promises to be a great day for sustainability and healthfulness! This week will also be the last official BikeFace-operated Friday Ride. While hopefully they will continue in some fashion, they will no longer be organized and put on by BikeFace UIUC.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  17. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, last week was feast or famine, visitors-wise. We had all-stands-full for most of Friday—even with the bad weather--and hardly a visitor in the first two hours on Wednesday. We didn’t do a lot of large sales and the numbers reflect that; most visitors were just tuning up their bikes with small consumables. Our visitor total for last week was 91.

    We grossed $617.25 for the week. Sold six memberships for $180; 18 tires for $85; eight tubes for $36; and three locks for $69.

    Last week—with Lily’s help--I was able to streamline the stolen bike reports that come in through bike@illinois so I can disseminate that info on to bike shops, advocacy orgs, and businesses and thereby increase the chances (in theory) of recovering the thieved property.

    This week I will continue to build bikes, search for and field job applicants for the summer months and begin coordinating and organizing for next month’s Bike to Work Day and the May 10th Moonlight Bike Drive event.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  18. Weekly Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    All, the shop was closed for Spring Break, so going back two weeks to 3/13 – 3/17: Visitors totaled 60. We grossed $839.20. We sold 4 memberships for $120; one refurbished bike for $180; and one build-a-bike for $134.

    This week I will be prepping for summer staff, building bikes, organizing/cleaning, getting in touch with the new supply representative, and attempting to streamline the reporting of stolen bikes.

    Additionally, the Bike Project is hosting a bike light giveaway at Douglass Park in Champaign on Sunday (April 2nd;  2 - 5pm) that I will promote this week.

    Sincerely,

    • Jake Benjamin
      Campus Bike Center Manager
  19. Weekly Update

    All, Happy Monday! Last week was a steady busy one. We routinely had peaks of busyness and fallow valleys. We had 97 visitors through the doors, including staff. We grossed $951.50. We sold two bikes for $335; one build-a-bike for $61; and 4 memberships for $120.

    Overall, last week I was met with a little more enthusiasm for the space than I regularly receive upon explaining the cost structure and mission of the CBC to new visitors. That was nice. Our for-sale bike count after last week sits at 14 for-sale bikes. I keep trying to grow that number up into the 20s but people keep buying them. That’s not a bad thing, I suppose.

    Additionally, the two Departmental Share bikes need parts that are on-order so that project will be delayed, unfortunately.

    Our numbers for B-a-Bs last year was quite low and as such I will begin photographing—with permission—all those who complete build-a-bikes and posting them on social media, which will serve two important functions: advertising for CBC and its most education-intensive program; and having a picture of owner and bicycle in the event of a stolen or lost bike.

    This week I am going to cull a few more unbuiildable bikes from the pile and concentrate heavily on ramping up the for-sale numbers since this week of cold, snowy weather should keep the shoppers at bay. I will additionally focus on drop-bar bicycles, since I’ve noticed people requesting and looking for those more than the about-town cruisers and flat-bar bikes we have for sale, irrespective of how well-suited they are to campus riding.

    Sincerely,

    Jake Benjamin

    Campus Bike Center Manager

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