Keeping a Simple Bike Project Simple

A couple months ago I shared this small vision of making sure every kid in my neighborhood that wanted a bike and a lock could have one. I really appreciated the overwhelming support and realized I hadn’t updated everyone on the progress. It’s been a fun ride.

The Northside Bike ProjectSeptember

At the beginning of September, Eli (my bike partner-in-crime) and I went to a small grassroots conference called BikeBike. It’s a very cool eclectic bunch of folks from all over the country who come together to talk about running community bike shops. We had a couple of guys from Nebraska sleep in a tent in our backyard. At the conference we learned a bit and hooked up with a guy named Jason from Sibley Bike Depot. Jason was excited about what we were doing and encouraged us along and promised the support of Sibley. A week or so later we check out Sibley to see what a real professional community bike shop looks like, it’s sweet. Sibley has a board meeting and agrees to support us by allowing us to order tools and supplies through their wholesale account. We put in a $550 order (from a neighborhood block grant) for locks, tires, tubes, patches, and more. At the end of the month we host a small “bike safety” gathering to connect with a few neighborhood kids and give away some bike locks (along with an elaborate system to help track whose lock and bike each is).

October

Sibley offers to give us some bikes. I was thinking maybe 10, but they say they’ve got plenty more. We take two pick-up trucks and put 67 bikes in the back! The bikes fill up half our basement.

A week later, Eli is given a big trailer from another bike group that’s disbanded. The trailer used to be for a traveling bike circus (tall bikes, strong man, etc). It has a wild mural painted on it, the side opens up to a stage and it’s seven feet tall. Not sure exactly what we’ll do with it yet, but it’s sweet. And it’s parked in my backyard.

We buy a few more tools too and start setting up shop at the end of the month.

November

It’s just me and Eli, but we’ve had our first two ‘open shop’ times where we mostly hung bikes up, set up a work bench and organized tools, but we’ve started messing with a couple bikes. We also scored a couch for the downstairs and as soon as I get the radio working we’ll be ready to make the shop public.

The plan is to have open shop hours every other week for other volunteers to come and help fix up bikes. Come spring time we’ll potentially have over 50 bikes to give out to neighborhood kids. I’m still planning on keeping things very low-key on my end, just giving bikes to kids who I know, but we’ve talked about partnering with other neighborhood groups to give out bikes through their programs.

Here are some photos:

And to finish things off, if your on facebook, consider becoming a Fan of the project there as I’ll be posting more regular updates and pictures as things progress.

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