By Steph Compton
Resident of West Baltimore
I first identified that my West Baltimore neighborhood needed a community Bike Tool station after I met some of my neighbors riding their bikes on flat tires. I lent them my tools and then realized that there isn't a nearby bike shop where you can access an air pump; Most neighborhood bike shops let you pump up for free. These new friends of mine have bikes, they just don't have tools. That's when I started planning to get a bike tool station installed in my West Baltimore neighborhood. Identifying the needs of this project was paramount to ensuring that it could come to fruition.
After knowing that these fix-it stations already exist in other places around town, I received information from the Station North Tool Library to see where and how I could get a bike tool station installed in my neighborhood. After realizing that it would cost about $1,400, I researched to see if there were any grants I could attain from the city. I was in luck because the Southwest Partnership was awarding grants of up to $1,000 to host a community event. However, you had to be a non-profit to apply. Luckily, I'm a Bikemore member, which is a local bicycle advocacy group. I asked if they would be my fiscal sponsors and apply for it on my behalf if I put it all together, of which they did! This actually aligns with their mission to further expand the city's plan for safer streets, including more bicycle lanes throughout all neighborhoods in Baltimore especially the ones that need it the most.
Read about Bikemore and their current advocacy projects HERE.
Next, I had to write a grant for an event based around the installation of the Fix-It station. Thankfully, I was awarded $750, so I had to continue a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to get the remaining funds. The last step in the plan was to figure out where to install it, and who I would have to contact about actually installing it. The representatives at Dero informed me of all the questions I needed to ask. The first two problems were to identify underground pipes and make sure it didn't impede the sidewalk according to ADA standards. Simultaneously, I had to attend an event planning workshop in order to receive the funds. That's when I learned that I also needed to submit for a special event permit, which had to be done at least 8 weeks in advance to save money on the permit application fee.
After deciding that it would be best placed adjacent to the Hollins Market Baltimore Bike Share (BBS), I started asking around. I got the contact of the person at BBS and he thought it was a great idea; Easy peasy, he was sold! He even added the installation to his workload and paid his workers to install it, at no extra cost to me!
We hosted a community event on May 6th, 2018, where Bikemore's Mobile Bike Shop came out to help folks of all ages with their bikes and give demonstrations on how to utilize the newly installed "Fixit" Station.
Check out photos of the event on FB HERE.
I had to coordinate with multiple groups to make this happen:
Station North Tool Library
Baltimore Bike Share
Hollins Market (power source for installation)
Hollins Roundhouse Community Association (Community input)
Marcus Comfort (friend of mine that did the welding to secure it)
Race Pace Bicycles (donated tire levers & patch kits to give away at the event)
MECU (gave the funds)
And not to mention the many private donors that donated to the project, too!
After many months of planning, the community bike tool station is now in the ground! The event was rewarding in many ways. We engaged with community members that day and all were thankful that this station now exists. Neighborhood kids no longer have to ride on flat tires or scrounge up quarters to pump up their tires at the 7-11. The future of biking in Baltimore.
Did you know that May is Bike Month? Check out more events and see how Bikemore and the community are working toward a bike friendly world HERE.