Working at Virginia Tech since February 22, 2016
Alternative Transportation Assistant Alex Pham is a bike enthusiast who has found a home at the Hokie Bike Hub, both as an employee and as a patron. Pham and Virginia Tech’s award-winning Alternative Transportation program encourage students and employees alike to hop on their bikes and clean up Blacksburg, one commute at a time.
Q: What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
A: I primarily help with operation of the Bike Hub, which is a self-service facility for students and employees, and instruct students on how to do maintenance and repair on bicycles. I oversee the functioning of the office of the Hub and offer instruction where it’s necessary or desired. As Alternative Transportation, we are present at events like Gobblerfest and orientation, where we provide information on any sort of commuting that’s not single driver, single car. The other duties of the job include some light clerical work, providing decals, permits, and sign-in and registration for bicycles on campus.
Q: How did you come to work here?
A: I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2012 as an undergraduate in political science and English, and then I went away for a few years and did a bunch of things. I worked at a scrap recycling magazine in D.C. for a while, and then I also worked at a bike shop in D.C. for a year. I moved back to town about a year ago to get away from the hectic stuff in D.C., and this job was open. It was a perfect match, in terms of my interests and my abilities.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I think my interests lie in some of the functions of this office. Biking is something I’ve done at a hobbyist for a long time. Before working in a bike shop, I did spend some time as an undergraduate at the bike co-op in town, as a rider of bikes. I like to ride bikes.
It’s never too cold to ride. We ride all year. Everyone that works here, we get along really well and we all ride together. It’s hard to do some rides when it’s this cold, but certainly, as far as commuting is concerned, we’re all very dedicated non-driving commuters. We all genuinely love bikes here, and being around bike people.
There’s a nice array of things in this office. When we’re not on the clock, we do sometimes come in and work on our own bikes. We can speak to how huge of a service it is. It wasn’t here when I was an undergraduate, and I think just being able to come in and do really basic stuff like putting air in your tires and lubricating your chain–honestly, just being able to make a mess here rather than doing it at home–is huge. And beyond that, I think a lot of people benefit from having some amount of instruction from our staff here, if not encouragement or just a second pair of eyes.
There’s never any money changing hands here. People don’t pay for labor. They don’t drop their bike off like they would at a shop. It’s much more of a learning and self-service facility. The Hub is similar to a gym in that you can come here and use what’s here and get help. It’s a really cool system, and I think all of us benefit from it as patrons, as well as people who have been into bikes for a long time.
Written by Steve Barnett, a 2015 multimedia journalism graduate currently studying public relations.
First published: February 7, 2017