Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) 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.
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.
Elly Blue has been writing about bicycling and carfree issues for BikePortland.org since 2006. Find her at http://takingthelane.com