Saving money and the planet at the HSU Bicycle Learning Center
Humboldt State University’s Bicycle Learning Center made the transition in September 2018 from a student club to an Associated Students program umbrellaed under HSU’s Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program.
Steven Sperling volunteers at the BLC while pursuing his master’s in business administration.
“Bicycles are the most efficient form of transportation there is for human beings,” Sperling said. “Bicycles can and should save the world, period.”
Originally founded in 1992, HSU’s entirely student-staffed Bicycle Learning Center is a free resource available to all HSU students in need of bike repairs. The transition opened up two part-time instructor positions, paid for with student fees, that are currently split between three students.
“Probably the biggest thing that I’m working on here is how to share my bicycle knowledge efficiently,” Sperling said. “Learning how to teach is one of the things that I’m most excited about learning while I’m here.”
Current Director Julian Palmisano has been a member of the BLC since he transferred to HSU from Santa Barbara City College in 2017.
“We all started as volunteers at the shop to serve and build community, utilize the resources and gain experience,” Palmisano said.
The BLC does its best to provide all of the tools necessary for maintaining a well-conditioned bicycle, along with as many consumable parts that they can get their hands on. With a budget of only $800 provided by WRRAP, the majority of parts that cycle through the BLC are donations.
Colton Trent is an instructor entering his third semester volunteering for the BLC.
“The budget provides a buffer in case we run out of stuff,” Trent said. “But for the most part we can function pretty well trying to up-cycle and recycle things.”
As a result of their small budget, the BLC can only provide a finite number of students with bicycle maintenance.
“Sometimes we just don’t have stuff and we have to tell people like, sorry we can’t help,” Trent said. “Which is a real bummer.”
The BLC encourages donations in the form of tools, bicycle parts and old bikes that will be refurbished and donated to a student-rider in need. All cash donations that the BLC receives go directly into the shop’s spare parts fund.
In the fall semester of 2019, the BLC saw over 180 documented student visits, totaling over 100 hours of bicycle maintenance. By spreading the trend of using bicycles as a primary-method of transportation, the BLC is promoting a healthier lifestyle with a significantly smaller carbon footprint.
Located in the eastern tunnel by the Redwood Bowl, the BLC is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, with instructors and volunteers standing by to assist and educate students in bicycle repair.