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Hungry For Bikes: The Bozeman Bike Kitchen
Hungry for a bike? Bikes are on the menu at the Bozeman Bike Kitchen. We recommend you begin with an education appetizer served by a bike mechanic mentor. Not interested in an appetizer? Entrées include a bike frame; drivetrain and gearing; steering and seating; brakes; suspension; wheels and tires. All bike parts are served with bike tools. For dessert we offer some bike accessories.
Seriously, what is the Bozeman Bike Kitchen? The Bozeman Bike Kitchen mission states, “We are a cooperative cycling center dedicated to making the use of bicycles as transportation and fun possible for all members of the Bozeman community. We provide affordable ways to acquire and maintain a bike. We encourage recycling, education, advocacy, and local cycling.” To help the Bike Kitchen serve the community they need volunteers of all ages and abilities to help refurbish bikes. Experienced mechanics are needed to mentor new mechanics, and to run work nights. Volunteers will be eligible for free bikes and/or parts depending on the number of hours worked.
What a great idea! According to Catherine Schneider, Bozeman Bike Kitchen Organizer/Secretary/Treasurer, there are well over 20 “bike kitchens” throughout the United States. Bozeman’s Bike Kitchen has been in existence for about five years. Catherine reports activity at Bozeman’s Bike Kitchen is booming each summer and is also thriving throughout the winter months. During the first year of building the business efforts were spent gaining nonprofit status. The Bozeman Bike Kitchen is a nonprofit 501C (3) organization operating solely on donations and volunteered time. A number of programs are offered to provide bicycles to all types of people including the Community Bikes Program, (free bicycles for low income families and individuals), the Earn-A-Bike Program (bicycles in exchange for volunteering), and the Community Shop Access Program (workshop access for a small donation). The Bozeman Bike Kitchen also provides education programs and workshops and of course, has bicycles for purchase.
If the Bozeman Bike Kitchen is to thrive in Bozeman they will need help in the form of volunteer time (especially, but not limited to, those who are mechanically inclined), donations of bicycles, parts, accessories and monetary donations. These can all be brought directly to the Bike Kitchen during business hours, mailed to the shop or via Paypal. Contact information is located at the end of this article.
Currently located in the garage of 425 East Aspen, the Bike Kitchen is searching for a new space so it can continue to grow. Finding an affordable and ideal location is no easy task. The Bike Kitchen is hoping to find a new space in an accessible, central location, on a bike path, visible to the community, and with a little more breathing room. If you visit the Bozeman Bike Kitchen, which I highly recommend, you will immediately realize they could use twice the space. A warehouse-type facility with rent affordable to a nonprofit organization tops the list of needs. Other needs topping the list include: board members and officers, dedicated staff and experienced bike mechanic volunteers.
As a personal example of what a bike kitchen can provide I know two college students with no previous bike mechanic experience who both spent time volunteering at a Bike Kitchen. Both built their own road bikes from scratch for free. One of those bikes was later used in a triathlon! One of my favorite aspects of the Bozeman Bike Kitchen is not just the opportunity to receive a free bike, but also the opportunity to give. People can give their time, bike parts, and/or money. This is a truly valuable service for everyone in our community, not just those in need of a bike.
Not only are bicycles valued as a means for commuting, leisure, and exercise they have also been credited with offering increased personal freedom; better physical and mental health; and elevating individuals out of poverty. Bicycles are even mentioned historically regarding female emancipation. The American civil rights leader, Susan B Anthony, wrote in 1896: “I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammeled womanhood.” Free from restrictive clothing such as corsets and ankle length skirts, the main fashion concern some women today might have is a certain look known as “helmet hair”. Fashion aside, bicyclists on public roads today are subject to traffic laws. For more information regarding bicycle laws in the state of Montana go to: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/61_8_6.htm/ Everyone needs to be aware and alert about sharing the road with bicyclists. As we pay attention to laws, unfortunately bike owners also need to consider theft. Bike theft is not uncommon especially around the college campus. Most theft can be avoided by simply locking your bike. In order to lock your bike, however, you do need a bike, which brings us back to the main topic of this article: The Bozeman Bike Kitchen.
Anybody interested in volunteering should go to the Bozeman Bike Kitchen during business hours and chat with the fun and friendly staff. Volunteers of all ability levels are encouraged as the website states, “You don’t need any bicycle repair knowledge or skills whatsoever to help out at the Kitchen.” All ages are welcome and they even offer the opportunity to perform any required community service hours. As you walk into the Bike Kitchen one of the first things you’ll see is the Volunteer Work Project Board. Written on the board is everything from breaking down bikes for recycling to cleaning the floor with a magnet to researching costs. I also saw a rack of “community bikes” most for under $100, headlights, Bozeman bicycling maps, and tire patch kits for sale. Looking around the garage I noted a sticker that read, “You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic. Break free, ride a bike.” The feeling of breaking free is evident at the Bike Kitchen as staff, volunteers and patrons share the desire to improve the quality of life by making viable the use of bicycles as transportation and fun for all. The atmosphere of the Bike Kitchen is energizing with people working together. I arrived ten minutes early and waited with about eight others for the doors to open. While at the Bike Kitchen I observed a family of four test driving bikes, a young man inflating a bike tire, four men working on bikes in the shop area, volunteers loading a truck, and about six others discussing bike options with staff. Needless to say the staff were BUSY! Overwhelmed is a word that could be used however, I would not use the world overwhelmed as the staff I chatted with (Doug and Catherine) did not appear overwhelmed in any way. They handled every customer and situation with ease and a level of openness that made everyone feel comfortable.
The Bozeman Bike Kitchen is located in the garage of 425 East Aspen (near the Meat Shoppe on North Rouse). Look for the Bike Kitchen in the garage behind the house. If you’re driving they ask you to please park across Rouse and walk to the Bike Kitchen. Better yet, walk or ride a bike! Hours of operation are Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 pm to 8 pm
So if you’re hungry for bikes, get yourself to the Bozeman Bike Kitchen. Prices are more than reasonable, the ambiance is energizing and the service is awesome. Personally I recommend the Community Bike for
For more information go to:
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Tammy Walker is a Freelance writer, Registered and Licensed Occupational Therapist and a Norwex Consultant. She can be reached at email@example.com