A Simple Bike Project

Last summer, I was walking around the block with my daughter when one of the neighborhood kids came up to me, “do you have a wrench?” I sure did, so I grabbed my wrench and we walked over to see what the fix-it project was. Turns out the kid was swapping some stuff on some bikes so he’d have something to ride. I assessed the situation and said:

“Actually, what you need is a chain tool.” I ran inside and grabbed my small handy little device for removing a bike chain. When I came out and showed the kids how to use it, I was instantly transformed from that random neighbor who walks around with his kid all the time to The Bike Guy (I’d like to think of it as on par with super hero status).  Soon, I had neighborhood kids coming over all the time to make adjustments and patch tires. We’d sit on the porch together and I’d show them some of the basics (I honestly don’t know all that much myself).

Fast forward to this summer, We have a growing pile of dismantled bikes in our backyard, the kids are still knocking on the door daily asking to use tools, I even bought a few thrift store bikes and gave them away, flats are still a regular repair…and then my bike pump broke. I’d had some ideas brewing for a while, but now with the need to dig up some money for some new tools, I decided to put them into action.

I got approval for a neighborhood block grant to organize a community “bike safety” event to give youth bike locks, and then I’ll also use grant money to purchase a set of tools and a whole stockpile of patches, tubes and more. And recently, I’ve been talking about Eli about what a northside bike project might look like.

I have a small vision right now: Ensuring every kid in my neighborhood, that wants one, has a bike and a lock. Hopefully along the way we can teach some basic bike maintenance, build some relationships, and have some fun. Interested in getting involved? Let me know.

19 thoughts on “A Simple Bike Project”

  1. AWESOME idea Ariah. You truly are the community organizer you claim to be on your website! I'd love to be involved, but living 6 hours away probably makes that difficult.

  2. Hi Ariah I read about this wonderful project and I belong to the Major Taylor Bike Club, there's a website that tells all about who Major Taylor was and what we do. Maybe u can email Darica who's the president and she can query our membership to see if any members would like to get involved.

  3. That's awesome. I love when a simple act grows into a vision rather than vision being a contrived thing. I should bring my bike over…I need the back wheel trued. 🙂

  4. In some neighborhoods bikes can get a serial number on them that is registered with the police too in case the bike gets stolen. Not sure how that would work in North where the police aren't friends usually. Or you could brand their name into it too for a sense of ownership. But really if everyone had a bike no one would steal one.

    Awesome idea and way to move on the grant thing!

  5. This is SO cool, Ariah!! I had no idea you were doing this. I think eliseanne's mention of police involvement is interesting – I wonder if officer Klukow (or another bike cop) would want to get involved…..

  6. Dude – this reminded me of all the stuffi need to do with my bike to get her back to her former glory – yes I said her – she is called sarah.

    I thought i could just ask you to do it all for me, we'll work out how to ship it over to you later on….

    can you fix the following things on my bike:
    # Bearings in Headset Assembly
    # Oil change in Forks
    # Air adjustment in Forks
    # Hose replacmnt for front disc brake
    # Straighten out the axel of my 3 piece cranks
    # true both front and rear wheels
    # replace the RHS gear shifter
    # Replacethe rear hanger cable

    i think that'll do it for now.

  7. This RULES!! What a great idea! I wish that I could get involved too, but like Devin, the 6 hour drive might hinder that. Let me know if there's anything I can do from Wheaton.

  8. Eliseanne,
    great idea. We are brainstorming maybe a cool little stencil job that we could spraypaint on to bikes. As well as pictures of bikes and owners cataloged. And, possibly using the Operation ID thing the police run. We'll see, that's maybe down the road a bit. Thanks for the idea though.

  9. Thanks Leesha,
    I meet the Bike Cops for Kids officers this summer. It might be a chance to collaborate in the future. They managed to buy a bunch of brand new bikes for youth, the ones I'm giving away are not nearly as nice.

  10. I have a red, boys mountain bike I could donate… A good excuse to get a road bike that is actually big enough for me.

  11. Cool anne. I'm mostly planning on using kids bikes, less work and moving parts, but Eli might be interested in getting a mountain bike fixed up for someone. We'd be happy to take any donated bikes at this point.


  12. Ariah, you talk a lot, and that is great. But, this type of thing is truly why I continue to admire you. You do things, which is more encouraging and inspiring that anything you say/write. I am honored be a "friend of The Bike Guy".

  13. This is so fantastic! I love the concept itself, but I'm also totally loving all the side benefits these kids will receive in learning life skills that will take them through their whole lives. Woooot!

    Way to love on your neighbours, Ariah!

  14. Just an update for anyone whose interested: scored 5 bikes for $9 at the thrift store today!
    (and a sweet bike trailer for another $10, possibly for a future "mobile bike shop"…)

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