Open Bike Shop Hours Give New Access To The Community

Cathy Niland | 12.8.2021

On any given Thursday, while most of our departments are preparing for evening classes, you’ll find one corner of the studio buzzing. Since mid-September, our Bike Shop team has been leading weekly Open Bike Shop Hours, a new program designed to increase access to bike repair education for our West Oakland community. 

Unlike our quarterly Bike Fix-A-Thons, Open Bike Shop Hours are designed to give participants the skills needed to keep their bikes in running order. Bike Shop Department Co-Head, Jared May, explains. “Someone could come to a Fix-A-Thon and get their bike fixed and three days later it’s stolen or they have a flat.” This program works to give folks more autonomy over their transportation instead of having to rely on quarterly repair events. “Making bike mechanics more accessible provides self-reliance that I think is so valuable,” Jared explains. 

Open Bike Shop
Open Bike Shop participant Andrea Preciado works with Bike Shop Department Co-Head Jared May to fix a tire.

“It’s really more of a bike school than a bike shop,” added Marcus Van Duren, Bike Shop Department Co-Head. “We want to give people the opportunity to learn. I feel empowered when I know how to do something and I think others do, too.”

A thriving community in The Bike Shop 

With weekly sessions, community members can make regular visits to The Shop, not only learning things like chain and tire repair but also building a rapport with other regular visitors and our Bike Shop team. “It’s been really nice getting to know some of the people who have been coming to our Fix-A-Thons—instead of a two-minute interaction, they can hang out and tell some stories,” Jared shared. “There’s more connection because people are working on their own bikes. It’s just better when the person is right there alongside you when you fix it.”

“No one gets turned away—anybody that comes in with a bike issue or is in need of a bike will get help. It’s an immediate way to meet community needs,” shared Open Bike Shop participant, ​​Andrea Preciado. “Getting bike repairs can be really expensive and inaccessible, so this is a really sweet way to bridge that gap.”

Youth and adults learn bike repair for free, together

Our youth students are benefiting from Open Bike Shop Hours as well. Participants in our free Earn-A-Bike Program spend three hours each week learning to repair two bikes, keeping one and donating the other to be sold to support our Bike Shop programs. However, for some youth participants, three hours isn’t enough. “Consistently, when we’re running Earn-A-Bike, there’s a kid who wants to come back during open shop hours,” says Jared. 

Jeremiah, age 11, is one of those students. He participated in the last term of Earn-A-Bike and became a regular fixture of Open Bike Shop Hours during his session. Now, after his Earn-A-Bike program has concluded he is still attending as many Open Hours events as he can. 

“These kids come to Earn-A-Bike and Open Shop Hours and we become part of their social world,” explained Marcus. “They have friends here and feel welcome here. It’s awesome to see them blossom and watch their confidence grow.”

You can support the Bike Shop 

This is just one of the ways our Bike Shop is working to expand access to West Oaklanders and neighboring communities. Many folks rely on bike transportation and next year, The Crucible is committed to continuing our work to expand access to free bike repair so folks can count on a safe, reliable ride. 

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