Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective
will be holding their annual Bike Prom. Essentially you buy your tickets to the event, gussy
yourself and you ride up for the big dance, find yourself a date and ride from the meetup to the prom spot. This year, the event will be starting at Pioneer Park and ending at Pierpont Avenue (the half with all the bars), where everyone can dance the night away before riding home. Today we chat with the Collective's Executive Director, David Davis, about this year's prom before the big ride. (All pictures provided courtesy of the Collective, taken by Photo Collective Studios.
Gavin: Hey David, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm the guy who'll come talk with you about your '80s mountain bike that you pulled out of your grandparent's garage, but I hopefully won't be too weird about it. I'm a native Utahn and love it here, sometimes because it's so easy to find great stuff to do here, and sometimes because it's so easy to leave. I've worked as a filmmaker, a writer, and [now] as the Bicycle Collective's Executive Director.
What first got you into cycling, and what were some of your first bikes?
Bikes were always a great thing in my life from the age of four, and I rode them all until I broke them or they broke me. That taught me that I needed to learn to fix them. I loved romping around Sundance (where I grew up) on my MTB as a teenager, once riding uphill until I literally blacked out in the heat. As a psychologist, my stepdad really wanted to encourage my bicycling habit to keep me away from motorcycles. He lent me a classic '70s Medici road bike in high school, which I rode the crap out of. But the biggest thing was traveling with
a bike: I'd buy old bikes in other countries for $20-$50, strap my bags to them, and ride all over the place. I once made it over the Julian Alps on a $20 piece-of-crap rebar road bike and almost made it to Paris before my poor mechanics ground it to a halt.
When did cycling stop being a hobby and start becoming a profession?
After that bike trip, I started volunteering at the Collective because I wanted to learn to fix bikes. Volunteering at the Collective was incredible; it introduced me to tons of interesting people, and showed me that by sharing a skill, you could make another person's life tangibly better. Volunteering also taught me a ton of mechanics, and encourage me to get a summer job as a bike delivery guy.
How did you eventually become the executive director? What's it been like running the organization?
After leaving the state to work in the film industry for three years, I heard Jonathan Morrison, our founding director, was stepping down. I wanted to try my hand at running the organization that was so formative for me, to help grow it into a mature organization. It's an amazing place to be a part of, because what we do is so tangible and so easy to see the value of. Watching our Salt Lake City location grow to factory-like proportions has been incredible, and each satellite location (currently in Ogden, Provo, Westminster Campus, and in St. George) has followed in that path.
Tell us about how the concept for the Bike Prom came about.
Years ago, Agnes Robl, a Collective volunteer, was riding a tandem bike (built for two) home by herself in a dress. Everyone getting out of the bars and whatnot was going nuts, hollering at her for a ride, asking what the occasion was. She realized how fun it'd be to have a prom on bikes, so we made it happen.
For those who have never attended one of the Bike Proms, what's does one do?
Have a blast! It's exactly like it sounds like—fluffy dresses, polyester suits, glammy elegance, dancing, and bikes. First things first, pick out an outfit and get your tickets from bikeprom.com. If the ticket is too steep, you can volunteer at that link as well! Next, find a crew or date to come with, or come stag and you'll soon find friends. Dress up your bike however you'd like or ride it as is. And dance the night away. After a pre-ride meeting in Pioneer Park at 6 p.m. and going until 6-8 p.m., we celebrate the Collective's past year, eat snacks from food trucks, vote on best outfits, and bid on interesting Collective memorabilia that has been donated in the last year.
How has it been for you to watch the prom grow over the years?
We were up to 900 registrants and 1,500 riders last year, [and] we hope to beat that! It's been really cool watching a really simple and approachable event catch on. It goes to show that you don't need to be an athlete to enjoy riding a bike around; you just need friends and a sense of fun.
This year marks the 6th Annual prom. What have you got in store for this year's events?
We've taken over the street! Pierpont Avenue will be closed down, and we're parking bikes in the adjacent garage, so the venue's huge! We'll have glammy pop tunes and dance hits inside and punk, soul, R&B vinyl outside. Get your prom portrait taken with your crew and an old-school tandem bike, or hop in the photobooth
for a more intimate photo strip. We'll have three food trucks and live bands on the pre-ride, serenading from pedicabs.
What made you switch from Liberty to Pioneer Park this year? Anything fun planned for the route to the party?
Rather than start in the park, we wanted to do a lap around Liberty since it's such a spectacle and thought Pioneer would be a better gathering point. We chose a route that would thread through downtown to interact with the people out enjoying their Saturday evening, half the fun is seeing a thousand people in prom outfits coast by while you're on the stoop or on a restaurant patio.
All of the proceeds are going to the Collective. For those curious, what do those proceeds help fund?
The Collective is a pretty lean organization, with 75 percent of all funds for all locations coming from donated bicycles and parts. So all the money raised by Bike Prom does huge things for our charitable programming. Specifically, it allows us to do things like expand our hours and hire on more open shop mechanics, so when you're fixing your bike at the Collective you have more assistance. But by expanding our capacity in one program, we're able to be more efficient overall, so a donation at Prom means more refugees on bikes, more kids learning to fix flats, and more refurbished bikes out into the community
After the prom, what can we expect from the Bike Collective this year?
Provo and Ogden are growing like crazy, with regular hours and a new location right around the corner. In Salt Lake City, we hope to grow our youth programs so we have a dedicated youth mechanic's night on Saturdays for any kids, staffed by our Earn A Bike graduates. We'd like to see 400 kids through the Salt Lake Earn-A-Bike class. This is also a big year for our plans to purchase and design a permanent home for the Salt Lake shop, for more information about that check out this link
On June 11, the