Annual UT-Austin bike auction goes virtual with 159 bikes for sale

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Parking and Transportation Services

The annual UT bike auction is returning virtually this week with 159 bikes for sale after it was not held last school year. 

After laying unclaimed for at least 90 days, bikes abandoned on campus are collected and auctioned each year at an average sale price of $70, said Blanca Gamez, associate director of transportation for Parking and Transportation Services. 

The UT Surplus Store partnered with UT Parking and Transportation Services to host the virtual bike auction Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Participants will need to make an account with the Swico Auction website to bid. Bidding began Nov. 2, and all bikes’ starting price was $5.

“In most cases, the bikes need a little bit of TLC, so they might need a new tire because it’s gone flat, it might need a little lube or grease on the chain,” Gamez said. “But you can get a pretty decent bike that is going to be new for you for $20 or $25.”

All sales are final, but buyers can schedule a preview of the bike before bidding, said Mark Engelman, assistant manager for UT Surplus.

 

Although PTS usually impounds bikes left on campus over the summer to create space for the fall, they did not impound any this summer unless they were blocking construction or doorways, Gamez said. 

Profits from the auction are spent on building more bike racks and lockers on campus and hosting events such as Bike to UT Day.

In previous years, auctions gathered up to a thousand people, but Gamez said a virtual auction might increase accessibility for buyers.

“The advantage for doing it online is having the ability to better organize the bicycles for the buyer, (and) it allows them to have more time to decide on a bicycle,” Engelman said. “It allows them to bid from the comfort of their home or office.”

Depending on the success of this year’s auction, Gamez said PTS may host future bike auctions virtually.

Physics senior Richard Najera, who participated in the 2017 bike auction, said the event brought large crowds of people when hosted in person. He said some bidders would guard tables to ensure they submitted the final claim to their desired bicycle.

Najera said because of the competition to submit a final bid, he didn’t take home a bike that year, but he would still prefer to search in person for the bicycle to gift his little brother and cousin.

“You can compare bikes on your own and go back and forth between them quickly and see which one you prefer,” Najera said.