When I wrote my eBook, Your Home Bicycle Workshop, I used the word “Home” because I thought most readers would want to use the information to build a nice place to repair their bikes in their garage, basement or shed. I know from experience that having your own workshop also creates a fun place to hang out while working on your own machines and even more, when helping friends with their bikes.
But Maryland mechanic Steve Andruski sent some photos of the workshop he built and told me of his loftier plans to create a community bike shop. I thought I’d share his photos and pitch to generate interest, since these types of bicycle shops can do so much to help cyclists and promote cycling.
Tip: While my town of Santa Cruz, California, is pretty small, we have a nice community shop called The Bike Church. If we can have one, there’s a chance you might find one in your community, too. Or, if you don’t, maybe you’ll want to copy Steve and start one.
“Jim, I picked up your Home Workshop book because I was curious. I've enjoyed the book and got some good ideas. I recently did some major renovations in my workshop and finally have things set up the way I've always wanted. I thought you'd be interested in some pictures, especially my bike storage (see photo).
It's much more than many people need, and well beyond anything in your book, but I needed to find a way to store nine bikes and have them all accessible.
I'm in Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. Getting my own space set up has helped me plan for the community bike shop I'm starting. I may even put together a parts list for the bike storage in case we want to build something similar for the shop.”
“Recently, the idea of a Bike Coop in Rockville came up in several different contexts and I figured this was a sign. The idea has been kicking around in my mind for a while, and I know there have to be others interested in starting one.
“There are several different non-profit ‘business models’ used, but the basic idea is a community bike shop where people can come to learn how to fix and maintain their bikes. Some of these are all-volunteer with some kind of membership or fee structure for use of the space. Others have a charitable portion to their mission, usually helping disadvantaged youth.
“My main interest is in teaching people how to fix and maintain their bikes. I'd like to get together with people with an interest in helping to get this off the ground. If it evolves into something with more of a charitable angle, that's fine, but it has to start somewhere.
“I'm willing to spearhead this, but I know I can't do it alone. If you live in the Rockville area or Montgomery County (Maryland), and you'd like to be involved in some way, email me. You don't have to be an experienced mechanic. Other skills are needed behind the scenes. Also, if you just have ideas about what you want out of a co-op like this, that's fine too. I'm tentatively using the name ‘Rockville Bike Hub’.”
If you’d like to help Steve create the Rockville Bike Hub, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with Rockville Bike Hub in the subject line so he knows it’s related to the idea.
And if you know of other noteworthy community bicycle co-ops helping spread cycling, let us know and maybe we can share them, too.
Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He's the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check his "cycling aficionado" website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached 7,644.