The volunteer-run bike repair education space has cut hours in a bid to survive.
Even if you ride your bike everyday, you might be intimidated by the technical world of bike repair. I feel comfortable biking just about anywhere in the city, but I’ll be honest: until very recently, I barely knew how to reattach my chain if it came loose. While I don’t think it’s necessary to be an expert mechanic in order to have a good time riding your bike, it’s helpful to know how to make basic repairs.
If this sounds appealing to you, look no further than northeast Portland’s Bike Farm (1810 NE 1st Ave): a volunteer-run organization that provides people with the tools and assistance they need to repair their own bikes. The Bike Farm’s goal is to make it easier for people to be self-sufficient, confident riders by giving them a safe, inclusive space to learn about bikes.
People who support the Bike Farm say they’d like it to be available as a resource all the time. But due to a lack of volunteer support, they’ve recently had to pare down their hours and cut the weekend shift – and they’re asking for your support to help change that.
“The fact that the the Bike Farm exists is a continuous miracle,” David S., who has been volunteering with the organization for years, told me when I swung by their building yesterday. “We want to demystify and democratize bike repair to make it the most affordable transportation mode.”
The Bike Farm offers time on their repair stands for $5 an hour. Or you can pay a flat fee of $20 a month, $60 a year, or $200 for a lifetime membership and have unlimited use of the shop during their open hours, which includes all their tools and volunteers at-the-ready to answer any questions you might have. The volunteers won’t fix your bike for you – the point is to get you acquainted with bike repair.
In addition to the technical help and tools, the Bike Farm is also a great place to meet like-minded people who can help get you accustomed to biking in Portland. Julian Day-Cooney is relatively new to the city, having moved here during the height of the pandemic. He’s only been to the Bike Farm a couple times, but he said he has felt really welcomed by the volunteers, and they’ve made him want to become even more involved in the world of Portland biking.
“I’ve only been here one time before, but I’m already in love with it,” Day-Cooney told me.
So check out Bike Farm! And volunteer!
If you want to do it but are wary of your mechanical skills, don’t fear. David said he didn’t know anything about fixing bikes when he first volunteered. But with time and assistance, he now feels confident helping people who come in to utilize their services as well as fixing his own bike.
“It’s empowering to be able to do your own work on your bike. I like to share that empowerment with other people,” he said. “You don’t know if it’s for you or not until you try it.”
Bike Farm is currently open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-8:30 pm, and you can stop into the shop during those hours to volunteer and learn more. Every fourth Thursday they host a volunteer orientation, and this month (September 22nd), Armando Luna (@dudeluna) will lead a group ride over to the orientation to get more people involved. You can also get in contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on IG via @bikefarmpdx