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  • Ernie Samora, Staff Writer

The Bike Shop’s uphill battle

Graphic by Eli Fukuji

Third and fourth-year students may have noticed the familiar sign between Baxter and Montag inviting students to visit The Bike Shop and Outdoor Program has been missing this semester, and if they were to take a look inside Montag, they would most likely find a barren, almost liminal hub. With the goal to help students with any biking-related needs, those who have utilized this service in the past may be unpleasantly surprised to find almost no trace of it on campus. Bearcat bikers are wondering, where is The Bike Shop?

Attending Willamette while not owning a car can feel limiting. Many areas of Salem are simply inaccessible without a vehicle. With such volatile gas prices and the student population growing, owning a car on campus becomes less attainable with each passing year. Biking provides a great alternative to a car — they are fun, a great source of exercise, environmentally-friendly and are cost effective. Previous Willamette students have addressed these biking needs when they opened The Bike Shop, but the program has fallen on tough times in recent years.

After the recent graduation of one of its only employees, The Bike Shop has just a singular mechanic, Ingrid Aosved (‘24). Due to the lack of staffing, The Bike Shop has been forced to hit the brakes on continuous service, switching from open hours to an appointment-based system in which Aosved will only come in if an appointment has been made beforehand.

Students needing to repair their bikes can use The Bike Shop’s tools during Montag’s desk hours: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday. However, without a mechanic, students are forced to learn repairs on their own. Visiting Montag, students will find a work stand that is available at all hours of the day for at-leisure use, as well as a detailed guide on how to change a flat tire and a biking map of Salem, Keizer and Turner. 

Another obstacle in the road for The Bike Shop has been the multitude of thefts from the Montag Den, including three in just the last year. These thefts have placed not only a financial burden on the program but have also taken a strain on morale. The Bike Shop had purchased a recumbent bike in order to make biking more accessible for students with physical disabilities. The workers had fully built the bike, but by the next time they came in, it was gone. “We were really excited about it and then they took everything from the bike except for the flag,” explained Aosved. The thief also made off with new tools purchased just weeks before.

The Bike Shop has been unsure of its space as a result of the security concerns. “We had to change spaces … four times at this point,” said Aosved. “How do you have a bike shop when you are struggling to have the physical space for a bike shop?” Several actions have been taken in order to prevent further break-ins, including the installation of additional university alarms and cameras as well as switching to a new space within Montag that features a locking glass door. “ODP seems to be in its final location for now,” Aosved noted. The move within Montag has seemingly been a success, as there have been no new break-ins during the 2023 fall semester.

Next semester, Aosved hopes to offer parts so that students can access everything they need to sustain their bike on campus without having to go into town or rely on Amazon. Aosved and Sarah Schneider, assistant director of student engagement & leadership and advisor to both The Collegian and The Bike Shop, are planning to send a survey asking what biking supplies students may need so they are fully prepared next semester. In the long term, Aosved hopes to one day bring The Bike Shop back to its former glory, with multiple staff and consistent open hours. “We’re doing our best,” said Aosved.

Intrepid Bearcats looking for help with bike repairs can make an appointment by emailing or can join Outdoor Program’s mailing list to stay up-to-date with all The Bike Shop news. Those interested in working with The Bike Shop can send an email expressing interest to be kept in mind during the next hiring process.

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