The Davis Enterprise: September 25, 2009
Davis Bicycles! column #27
Author: Jonathan Woolley
Jonathan Woolley, right, helps a visitor fix his bicycle at Bike 4th, a volunteer-run, nonprofit community bike shop at 1221 1/2 Fourth St., at L Street. Bike 4th volunteers share tools, used parts, ideas and knowledge in an effort to make bicycling more accessible for all.
KARIN HIGGINS/ENTERPRISE PHOTO
The ol bicycle needs a little tune up, why not do-it-yourself at Bike 4th?
For some humans, the relationship with our two wheeled brethren and sistren is strained, punctuated by heartbreaks and dragging brakes alike. Often such affairs begin with a tickle of excitement and sense of freedom components that come standard on every bike be it Huffy or Cervello.
As the cables that hold it all together stretch, things stop shifting as before and gears that once meshed seamlessly begin to creak and slip. Unexpectedly, and certainly at an untimely moment, both tyres suddenly burst!
Then, fondness faded and trust lost, its to the side-yard, to that dusty corner in the garage, and even, in the saddest of circumstances, to the dump.
But I dare say, this told tale of failed love is no fault of the bike. The blunder lies squarely in human hands. A bike must be nurtured, oiled and adjusted, day-by-day, lest it may go astray! Yes, certainly, a hired hand could intervene; but its a contrived love maintained by anothers toil.
Would it be lovely if a minister, say, could show the tools, tips and tricks every step of the way? Oh, oh, yes, well Bike 4th is your place! Its a bike shop, yes, but not like others. We dont sell bikes and we wont install, repair, tune, shine or overhaul. We teach you to do-it-yourself, for happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.
Bike 4th is a community bike shop, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and completely volunteer-run. We share tools, used parts, ideas, knowledge and fun! Our aim is to empower through education, to provide a space for the community to access tools and knowledge about bike maintenance, and thereby make bicycling more accessible for all.
It may seem outrageous, and that it may be, but we hardly even ask for a fee! You won’t find price tags at Bike 4th – payment is flexible, it’s all about fairness, equity, ability and inclination. This is strange, eh? Well, we hope you get the drift.
We do ask for a $5 donation per hour spent in the shop, and a fair market-value contribution for parts, materials and bikes. For time spent in the shop, in lieu of a donation we’re also happy to exchange volunteer time; we ask for half the time spent in the shop for two hours wrenching, stay another to volunteer!
There are used parts a-plenty, dirty and greasy, ready as fodder to fix your bike up easy. Bike 4th is a clearinghouse for used bikes and parts. Most folks in Davis are sitting on a small pile of forsaken frames, old rusting wheels, and a random assortment of parts – nothing quite worth selling, but all too valuable to trash. Folks donate these treasure troves to Bike 4th, and by bringing things together in one organized shop, were able to give so many forgotten bikes a second life!
No need to be an expert when you come to the shop, if youve never held a wrench well start from the top. If you think yourself a tinkerer but cant figure that wump-whrible-wonkity wheel, well show tools and teach til you get the feel. It takes a little courage, patience, and spite, but to do-it-yourself, just feels quite right.
Bike 4th is part of a network of non-profit community bike projects teaching a D.I.Y. philosophy in cities across the nation. Following on five years of growing success as the Bike Church on the UC Davis campus, and now newly established in downtown Davis, we look forward to many community service projects in the future.
Come visit us downtown at the corner of 4th and L Streets, our volunteers are ready to help you work out a creaking squeaky chain. If you have bikes, parts, or tools that youd like to donate, visit or e-mail is our refrain. Peruse the sidebar for our days, hours, and more.
This Sunday will be special. Well hold a day to get students rolling. Students, parents, extra volunteers and donations will be welcome from noon to 5:00 p.m. Join us then, later, and as we all peddle Davis together.
Jonathan Woolley is a volunteer at Bike 4th by night, and a UC Davis research engineer for energy efficient buildings by day. Youll find him biking swiftly across town with panniers full of groceries or a trailer of used bike parts for Bike 4th. Say hello at email@example.com.