Splendid Cycles Big Sale

A visit to Baltimore’s Velocipede Bike Project (Slideshow)

Posted by on January 12th, 2009 at 10:56 pm

One of my favorite stops in Baltimore was at the Velocipede Bike Project.

Occupying a bright storefront in the young and hip Charles Village neighborhood, Velocipede is a collectively run community bike shop. Since July of 2006, the all-volunteer shop has welcomed members of the community to come volunteer time (or, as a downplayed alternative, pay a fee) in exchange for access to bike tools, parts, and expertise.

Their logo

Anyone who volunteers at least three hours a month is allowed to choose a frame and build up a bike for themselves for free from the shop’s store of donated parts. Want nicer parts? Volunteer more hours. Collective members are always available to help, and weekly classes focus in-depth on various parts of the bike.

The shop, which is a business, has been open since July 2006. They pay $100 per month for their space to local community-minded developer Mike Shecter. The collective is currently looking to expand service to people who are just out of jail and drug rehab programs, and are partnering with another community bike shop in town to serve more youth.

From the moment I rolled up to the shop, I was surrounded by curious, excited bike enthusiasts. It was the most overwhelming welcome the Brompton and I have had on this trip. Once I’d unfolded and refolded it a couple times, the tumult dispersed — but the entire time I was in the shop the scene was one of constant, cheerful motion and activity. The atmosphere was exciting — everyone there loved what they were doing, and what they are a part of.

VelocipedeBikeProject.org.
Read more dispatches from my East Coast Tour.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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steve
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steve

Does anyone else get the feeling when reading these posts, that you have fallen into a vortex and found yourself back in High School?

These posts belong in a High School paper, or tucked under some ones pillow in their special, secret journal.

I do like the stimulating comments that follow them all. Is anyone even reading this tripe?

cyclelove
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cyclelove

Elly, thanks so much for these posts. It’s been incredible hearing different perspectives from across the country and receiving coverage about bike activism and how it has evolved in various places. We get so wrapped up in our incredible community here in Portland that it’s easy to forget how much there is to learn from little enclaves across the country and world. It’s been awesome having a window into your East Coast tour through your articulate, insightful posts.
Cheers!

Paula
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Paula

Steve,
Not sure why you thought this post was tripe. I found it interesting and inspiring, especially during such a severe economic downtown. A developer who is community minded is fairly unusual. To invoke the 60’s, more power to the people!!
Peace

shawn.
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shawn.

Well obviously Steve, you are reading this “tripe”.

I don’t understand where your negativity is coming from regarding this post. Are you mad that it’s about something outside of Portland? Or are you mad at the writing style? If it’s the latter, Jonathan writes similar posts about things going on here in town.

3-Speeder
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3-Speeder

Thank you Elly for all your posts. I’ve been reading them all – front page and 2nd – and I enjoy reading them all. Living here in Portland, it’s easy to take our bike culture for granted. I appreciate learning a perspective from other locales to realize how good we have it (not that we don’t have work to do here) and to learn how much progress (or lack thereof) has been made elsewhere.

Natallica
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Natallica

Elly,

Great story, I loved it! It was very inspirational,and the pictures were phenomenal as well!

chris
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chris

i think there’s similar shops in portland that have received much less attention than those on your east coast trip. isn’t this bikeportland.org?

gabby
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gabby

oh nooo you put the bad pic of me first ! you should put the pic of me chocking lars !
i really like that one, cause he drives me crazy.
hope you the best
thank you for the articule

Gabby
this is not gonna put me on any lists right ?

Boson
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Boson

Ahhh!

hey it was nice meeting you! One day I’ll make it up to portland, I swear.

In response to Chris who mentioned about a similar project in portland; there is actually literally hundreds of these projects all over the world… a huge chuck of it in North America. Check out bikecollectives.org

-Boson

Daily Breather
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Daily Breather

Hey, glad you liked the shop. The first time I walked in I too thought I was in a bee hive of collective activity. I wouldn’t discredit the Portland scene though. Until finding the VelPed all I knew about bike collectives was what I read from Critical Mass and stories of autonomous bike shop work zones in SF and Portland.
It’s an uphill battle out here though. Our state has spent in 10 years what Oregon spends in 1 on bike trail/transport/care/education.

Thanks for the shout.