I swung by the grand opening on Saturday of the Bicycle Hub, a new bike cooperative in Long Beach, California.
Graham Baden, one of the founders and volunteers, was on hand to give me a quick rundown of how it works. He and a few friends started getting more involved in the Long Beach cycling scene over a year ago, organizing bike rides and doing bike checks and tune-ups at a bar every Tuesday night. (Baden's full time job is as a mechanic at Jax Bicycle Center in Long Beach.) He said more and more people began showing up at the gatherings and they wanted to find a way of getting more people on bikes and help Long Beach become more bicycle friendly. So they formed a group called Pedal Movement under Catalyst Community, a 501c3 nonprofit that encourages community activism.
Pedal Movement was launched last May and the bike co-op had its humble start in a volunteer's garage. Two weeks in neighbors began complaining. Recently, Baden said Hancock University offered to allow them to use space next door free of rent. It was a condemned building with attached parking lot that needed a lot of work. Volunteers donated materials and time to fix it up.
He said for $7 an hour, people get an hour's time use of the co-op's bike stand and tools, as well as some lessons in bike mechanics. "We teach them how to fix their bikes. Our goal is to teach them how to work on their bikes," he said. Those who volunteer their time at the co-op get to use it for free.
The Hub will also accept bike donations, which will be fixed by volunteers, earn-a-bike program students and paying members. Some of the bikes will be sold and revenue will be used to further develop its facility, bike projects and advocacy within the community.
The festivities had just kicked off when I dropped by. A DJ was spinning tunes while fixie riders showed their skills off to a growing crowd. A few bands were set to take the stage later on as the party was scheduled to go into the night and include gold sprints, raffles and a trick competition. The Hub was accepting donations and Baden said most of the money raised would go toward purchasing liability insurance.
If you want to stop by and say hello, you'll find the Hub at 1741 N. Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90813.
Here are some pictures I snapped:
DJs spinned some tunes and got the party started around noon.
Acres of Books, one of the oldest book shops in the city established in 1934, donated some shelving. Used parts are stored in old wooden crates that were also donated.
The building offers an open air workshop, a "galley," and two other small rooms as well as restrooms. Volunteers put in hours to paint, clean and restore the building to workable condition.
Graham Baden said the volunteers don't go by titles, though he's one of the founders and a spokesperson for the co-op. He's proud of being a bike mechanic, a profession he says has helped him provide for his family.
Local kids wait for their chance to show off their skills on the wooden ramp. Long Beach hasn't been immune to the fixie trend.
Fixie riders entertained onlookers with their bike handling skills and tricks.