Wheels never seem to stop spinning at 2nd Cycle, an all-volunteer bike shop in Hilltop.
The community bicycle project provides low-cost bicycles, bike parts and free classes about bike repairs and safety as a way to help people opt out of their cars and onto a set of pedals. The 4-year-old nonprofit supports itself through donations and the sale of refurbished bikes and parts.
2nd Cycle formed in mid-2008, when four friends gathered their thoughts to create a community bicycle shop. The effort started simply as a portable bike stand, some discarded parts and a small set of tools that volunteers could use to refurbish old bikes for resale to low-income people who could not otherwise afford new bicycles. The organization is part of a growing trend around America to bring bicycles back to urban roadways.
“There are do-it-yourself community bike projects in Seattle, Olympia, Portland and most major and minor cities of America,” the nonprofit’s website states. “These projects have many different forms and faces. They differ from small operations like our own to large projects that send containers full of bikes to developing countries. We are not unique. We are but a pebble in an avalanche of change toward a more sustainable way of living. Tacoma is not what we would call a bike friendly city. The only way that more infrastructure will be provided is if there are a warrant-able amount of riders on the street. We aim to get as many people riding bikes as we can.”
The Washington State Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project prepared in 2010 by the Cascade Bicycle Club found that Tacoma saw a 25 percent increase in bike ridership from 2009 to 2010. But it still has a long way to go since Tacoma is Washington’s third largest city, but 10th in the number of bike riders.
2nd Cycle's move from a back alley earlier this year to a storefront along Martin Luther King Jr. Way brought a spike of walk-in customers that has grown steadily as the weather turns warmer and gas prices continue their climb upward.
“Since the move, we have been incredibly busy,” Adam Barnes said, noting that between 20 and 30 people stop by the storefront to
either look for an inexpensive bike or to get their current ride up and running following a winter in their storage spaces. “I think gas prices have a lot to do with it.”
People venture into 2nd Cycle to pick up a bike that has been donated to the cause, stripped down and rebuilt by volunteers to be resold for “garage sale” prices of as little as $15, or to rummage through the bins of parts to repair their bikes at a fraction of the cost they would have paid at a conventional bike shop.
“Everyone here is a volunteer, so we aren’t looking at making money,” Travis Martin said. “Tacoma is a very low-income place. Many people can’t afford a regular bike shop, so what we try to do is to get people to work on their own bikes. We are not a repair shop. They do all the work.”
Volunteers, however, are on hand to advise people through the process as a way to empower people who otherwise might feel lost in the mound of gears and chains dotted along the wall. Several people, for example, have walked into the shop with little knowledge of bicycles only to spend an afternoon building one from spare parts. They now help others maintain their two-wheelers.
One woman wheeled in an old Raleigh bike with no experience with repairing it before she swapped out all the gears and cables in a matter of hours. She rode off with a durable and inexpensive ride as well as a new sense of pride in herself. The parts totaled less than $50, but what she got was much more valuable.
“It’s hard to put a price tag on that type of education,” volunteer Matt Newport said. “She did all the dirty work herself.”
Learn more about 2nd Cycle at www.2ndcycle.org.
The month-long Bike Commuter Challenge is gathering information on people who log at least five trips during May to promote bike ridership as well as to hand out prizes, including a $200 REI gift certificate, bike tune-ups, light sets and team pizza parties. A $100 REI gift certificate will be awarded to the man, woman and college student who logged the most cycling miles in May.
Everyone has heard the stories and seen the movies about mountain biking, and now they can live the ride on this excursion for women cyclists new to mountain biking. Anyone interested can meet at Tacoma Bike-Proctor to carpool to Banner Forest for a combination of rural-urban riding that is perfect for learning to bunny hop. The ride is scheduled for May 20. Pre-register at Playback Sports, 2621 N. Proctor St. or by calling (253) 627-4938.
Join fellow bicyclists and city staff members to talk about hopes, visions and plans for a more bike-able Tacoma at a forum at 4:30 p.m. on May 24 at The Hub, 203 Tacoma Ave. S. Attendees can meet members of the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Action Committee and get updates on implementation of the Mobility Master Plan.
Commuting by bike is unlike any other commute. An event at 6 p.m. on May 28 at Tacoma Bike-Proctor, 3816 N. 26th St., will include a workshop to learn how to be smart about it. Pre-register at Playback Sports, 2621 N. Proctor St. or by calling (253) 627-4938.
More information on all things bicycle is available at:
Bicycle Alliance of Washington: www.2ndcycle.org
Cascade Bicycle Club: www.cascade.org
Tacoma Wheelmen's Club: www.twbc.org