Minneapolis College program aims to diversify bike industry

Amanda Dobbs graduated from the program earlier this year and now runs her own bike repair shop in North Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — A woman-owned bicycle repair shop is now open in north Minneapolis. He started with help from a new program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College that aims to diversify the bike industry.

“This is a definite career move for me…something totally out of my wheelhouse,” said Amanda Dobbs, owner and CEO of Camden Cycles in north Minneapolis.

Prior to the bike shop, Dobbs was a stay-at-home mom for 14 years and previously worked in community education.

At the start of the pandemic, she decided she wanted to open a boutique in the Camden area.

“I’ve been in this neighborhood for 15 years; I actually grew up in this neighborhood. There’s a huge lack of community spaces for us,” Dobbs said.

While researching courses to learn how to repair bicycles, Dobbs discovered Minneapolis College’s Bicycle Assembly and Repair Technician Certificate Program. The program launched in the fall of 2021 and is one of only two post-secondary cycling technician programs in the country.

Minneapolis College launched the program in conjunction with the Bicycle Industry Employers Association (BIEA). The national non-profit organization is on a mission to develop “smart, profitable programs” for regionally accredited colleges – helping to create a direct path to careers in the bicycle industry.

Minneapolis College is a two-semester, 28-credit program that begins in the fall semester.

According to Casey Coughlin, an instructor at Minneapolis College, becoming a bike mechanic is most often done through an apprenticeship.

“You learn from the chief mechanic, which is sometimes fantastic and sometimes less than fantastic,” Coughlin said. “So you get different experiences at different bike shops, and having a centralized, accredited, standardized curriculum creates industry-wide standards for all graduates.”

Coughlin said the program also helps remove some of the access control seen in the industry.

“The bike industry has historically been very white and very male. Especially because you kind of bet on any apprentice you hire. This white male workforce, not necessarily through their fault, tends to breed very reliably,” Coughlin said.

Coughlin said Minneapolis College’s program makes sense with such a diverse student body.

“So we gain a lot of that diversity that we lack in the industry,” she said.

In its first year, eight students graduated from the program, including Dobbs. At the end of May, Dobbs was opening Camden Cycles in the Loppet Foundation building on Dowling Ave. North. Dobbs said she was only aware of three other women-owned bike shops in Minnesota.

“It’s a wild ride. A dream come true,” Dobbs said. “Many marginalized people have negative experiences walking into the bike shop and I want to create a safe space where everyone can feel confident to ask any questions they want and I can meet them wherever they are. find,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs also considers Camden Cycles a family store, protecting the place with covers on the outlets and corner protectors on the glass shelves.

It organizes free Open Shop evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Experts are available to answer questions and help people through the bike repair process. Dobbs said she provides food and can watch participants’ children as they learn to ride a bike. You can register at [email protected]

“The most important part of my mission is to make sure Northsiders, in particular, are able to ride and ride safe bikes and have everything they need to really enjoy this to the fullest. sport, of this mode of transportation,” Dobbs said. “Everyone deserves to feel the joy that bikes bring.”

Those interested in learning more about Minneapolis College’s Bicycle Assembly and Repair Technician Certificate Program can find information, here. Registration is open for the fall semester. End of registration on September 20 and August 22 for recipients of financial assistance.

Camden Cycles
1420 Dowling Ave N, Mpls MN 55412

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