Traverse City Needs a Bike Co-op


Bikes for Rent at The River, at Clinch Park in Traverse City

I recently attended a Sustainability Conference in Grand Rapids.  I came away buzzing,  and full of ideas for how to translate that energy into action.  This is the first of a few posts, in which I will share my personal highlights from the weekend.

John Bulten’s Workshop on community bike programs inspired me.  Bulten is one of the organizers of Boston Square Community Bikes in Grand Rapids.  An arm of his neighborhood association, this bike co-op provides workstations and tools for people to work on their bikes, mentoring on bike safety, and a place for bike enthusiasts and neighbors to generally hang out and talk about cycling, and how they get around GR by bike.  Members fix up donated bikes for sale to support the co-op.

Bulten shared that becoming a bike friendly community, like Portland, is possible anywhere, when the City puts money into infrastructure that makes bike travel safe and easy, such as lower speed limits, and bicycle boulevards (Division Street, perhaps?).  In Portland, they even have bike trains, that make it safe for kids to bike to school, en masse!

Even if we can’t be Portland, bike collectives like this are sprouting up all over the Country, and they inevitably increase bike culture.  Throughout this workshop, I kept thinking “We need one of these in Traverse City!”  According to Bulten, getting started is easy, if you have a few people “interested in cycling and community development.”  We have those aplenty!  In fact, in a community that has TART Trails, the Cherry Capital Cycling Club,  and popular blogs like  My Wheels are Turning and kolo t.c., how is it that we don’t have a bike co-op?  Let’s change that by Spring 2013.

4 thoughts on “Traverse City Needs a Bike Co-op

  1. This is such a cool idea..didn’t they try a free bike to borrow for traveling in TC some time ago? I may have a bike to donate to the program…please keep me posted!!

  2. A good place to get bikes might be Mackinac Island! They have an auction every year to get rid of used and abadoned bikes for cheap. I would love to help. Served on the board for Teton Valley Trails and Pathways (Driggs,Idaho). Michigan is a not very bike friendly state, especially on the roads, but making improvements towards non-motorized bike paths. :)
    Education is a must for the ‘get out of my way or I’ll run you over mentality’ I have found here in Michigan. Also MDOT needs to implement bike lanes into all road improvments!!

  3. I am a lifetime member of a Seattle bike co-op (membership is $35) It operates out of a bike shop. They have about 5 repair stands and tools.

    It is *great*.

    I joined for the tools and ability to do repairs.

    What I was not expecting is how much I would enjoy the community of working on my bike along side other bikers. I met a lot of cool people that way.

    Now, I have to say, even if I owned all of those specialized tools at home, I’d still want to work on my bike in the shared co-op space. Because the community aspect is so incredibly awesome. And the surprise is that I’m not really one of those “community people”.

    That is a tricky thing to run. Not losing tools because people ‘accidently’ walk out with them, etc. And you will still lose tools. People will also use tools incorrectly, damaging them. Many people don’t even know how to use a metal file.

    Most bike shops see such a co-op as a threat. And certainly, supplying the tools and the expensive respair stands, is a significant expense.

    It is a tricky thing to cultivate.

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