Community Service Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

pages 10-17, Issue #3

Community Cycling Center

Introduction by Michael Webber

We have all been in, heard about, and talked about our bike shop experiences. Recommendations, or criticisms, are always being given: “You can always get a deal on used parts here, those dudes don’t seem to know what they’re talking about”, and “They let you work on your own bike there,” or the untrusting opposite, “They’ll quote two hours to remove that freewheel, but won’t let you borrow a tool to do it yourself.” In the gamut of attitudes and efficiencies; variety is the spice of life, and not every shop can be the same.

There, however, is a type of shop that I hadn’t really experienced yet—a shop that is totally focused on their communities. One is located here in Seattle; Bike Works is its name and it’s one of the leading community focused shops out there. Community focused bike shop you ask? What makes this different from any other bike shop? The shops we’re talking about are focused on enriching, through bicycles, the lives of individuals that otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to afford their own bike, or wouldn’t necessarily consider the option of using one. Their intentions are foremost angled to advancing bicycle use, recycling, and general individual empowerment. These are unselfish motivations; endeavors that truly benefit the greater good.

The immediate comparison always comes to mind; does this kind of advantage exist in the car-caring world? When I was a car-owner, one of the most frustrating aspects was having work done on my Honda. There was always the desire to fix it myself—to learn how, to have the mechanic show me some pointers—anything to avoid having to pay for another fuel pump replacement or whatever. But it was always impractical and unrealistic; cars are too complex and unreachable without a major investment in tools and school, besides they want you to repeatedly pay to fix your car, right? By contrast, these community focused bike shops give you the tools and the confidence to do it yourself. They teach you to repair your bike, to build your own mode of transportation and to keep it rolling. I can’t think of any comparable situation in the car-driving world.

The following pages will bring you closer to a couple of well-established shops and one up-and-coming shop that all fall into this unique category of being so focused on their community.

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