In 1997 we, the messengers in D.C. decided to open up a community workshop in someone’s basement. We planned to bring our own tools and invite kids from the block. I’d done the same thing in Denver. It was a great way to make friends. People are grateful and it is easy to teach flat fixing and minor repairs.
Before opening day in D.C. – 1997, someone already offered us a better space. There was a bike shop across the street, when they heard about what we were doing, they donated tons of tools and parts. All we had to do was mention them if we attracted media attention.
This past summer I rode on Saturdays with the East Side Bike Club. We spent the summer bonding, I loved my new friends’ curiosity and their new love of bikes. It was like going back to my messenger community in a way. It felt like home.
George Johnson founded the East Side Bike Club in the spring of 2016. Starting with three people he grew it to about 60 by the end of summer. George is a force to be reckoned with. George suggests nicely, but he will harangue you until you capitulate. He is the most charming arm twister I’ve ever met. He came to me, wanting to keep the good feeling going through the winter for our bike club. He thought it would be great to start a clinic.
It’s beyond a good idea. If you live on the East Side, which is huge, literally half of Buffalo, you must ride all the way to the West Side or the North Side to find a bike shop. It is a bike desert east of Main Street. Of course, I thought it was a brilliant idea. George then suggested that I help him out, “You gonna be the mechanic!” That’s how George makes suggestions. More than the mechanic, George was going to trust me to put it together.
So, George provided a basement at the corner of Bailey and East Delevan in the heart of the East Side. There’s piles of bikes that seem to grow daily. Boxes come in with piles of miscellaneous parts. It’s a real mess. It’s a happy mess though because stuff just keeps coming in. GoBike Buffalo donated a gorgeous tool box full of goodies, loads of parts and supplies. At our first Saturday “Clinic,” Damion and I spent a few hours organizing things and dreaming out loud about the future.
What we hope to do is normalize it as a community space. We want it to be a place where you can come in and learn about fixing bikes, riding bikes, and finding bike community. It’s a good idea that has found it’s time. The bike has changed my life for the better. My bike messenger mentors, Scrooge and Beaver in DC, Dogpaw and Rocketman in San Francisco, shared their knowledge and wisdom with me. They empowered me by sharing that community with me. That powered me to do some incredible. I’m happy to pass those lessons on. We the people, are creating the stunning tapestry which is Buffalo’s Bike Community.
Come join us! There’s plenty of ways to pitch in and learn something along the way.
Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.