Associated Students opened its new Bike Shop at a permanent location next to the Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building on Sept. 25 after six years of planning and nearly two years of construction.
The shop’s previous location on campus — UC Santa Barbara Parking Lot 29 next to Campus Pool — was initially intended as a temporary space.
“Since the shop was established in 1975, it’s always been assumed that the land that the building is on has always been temporary,” Bike Shop Coordinator and Associated Students (A.S.) Assistant Director for Student Engagement Adam Jahnke said. “And so what we wanted to avoid … was basically a position where the bike shop would have to respond to a request to move, versus being proactive about wanting to move.”
A committee under A.S. began initial conversations about potentially finding a permanent space in 2017, and after years of discussion, started construction in March 2022.
According to Jahnke, for the first few years of the project, there were extensive conversations about the Bike Shop’s new location. Jahnke said the Bike Shop’s specific location was selected due to its proximity to bike paths and cycle traffic.
“I feel like we have more of a presence now,” fourth-year mechanical engineering major and A.S. Bike Shop employee Thomas Newbold said. “It felt like we were relatively unknown. No one knew where the old bike shop was.”
In addition to a central location, the Bike Shop building offers several improvements from the old shop that employees requested during the planning process of the relocation.
Jahnke said the biggest priority was to increase space inside the shop.
“We’ve somewhat tripled our interior square footage, and then also tripled our exterior square footage, and we really needed to do that,” Jahnke said. “Our old space, we couldn’t even fit the amount of mechanics that I would hire to even be working simultaneously at the same time.”
Newbold, who has worked at both bike shop locations, echoed Jahnke’s assessment of the need for more space.
“The last shop was like working out of a tent, and this spot is like an actual home for the next foreseeable future,” Newbold said. “In the new shop, I feel like we just have more room to expand. There’s more room to actually work on bikes.”
A major concern of the previous bike shop was the safety of student cyclists since the building was located in the center of a busy parking lot. This issue has been remedied at the new location since there is ample outdoor space for customers and employees to enter and exit the shop as well as test the functionality of bikes away from cars.
“When students and/or when customers get their bike back, they would oftentimes go ride the bike, which makes sense,” Jahnke said. “But they would have to ride it around Parking Lot 29, and that being a very central busy parking lot, that was never great for students or for clients.”
The new bike shop building also offers several features that significantly improve the experiences of both employees and customers. Notably, the new facility boasts air conditioning and a shower for employees, neither of which were present at the previous location.
“Pretty consistently, the staff who were involved in the initial phase of this conversation — a shower was something that they wanted,” Jahnke said. “Because certain times of the day, certain times of the year, this job can be very taxing and students are oftentimes in between to and fro.”
“The big thing was also air conditioning and climate control, we wanted that,” Jahnke continued. “Overall, staff seem less sweaty, clients seem less sweaty outside, which I think is just great for everybody.”
The exterior of the building was also thoughtfully designed, as the building deviates from a traditional rectangular structure, and instead is configured in a more creative, bicycle-inspired shape.
“We really wanted to lean more into an expressive form of the shop, so it was my thought to the architects to lean into the shapes that are primarily through the bicycle, which is triangles and circles,” Jahnke said. “So they did a great job with a few different mockups coming to combine, basically, what turned into a triangle intersecting a circle.”
Newbold noted that while working in the new bike shop is substantially better than the previous building, the old shop felt like home for employees due to its rich history and the artwork that previous employees had displayed in the shop.
However, he emphasized that over time, the new shop will accumulate more student artwork to fill the space and ultimately feel the same way.
“Working on bikes is a creative process,” Newbold said. “I think it creates creativity both in employees and the people who are passionate about the space, so it just really starts to become a really amazing place over time, and we’re kind of restarting that process.”
The A.S. Bike Shop is open at its new location Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Oct. 5, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.