Davis Bike Collective: 2013 Climate Solution Award
The Davis Bike Collective models how an organization can work with people from different parts of the community work together to teach others to repair their bikes and even customize their bikes for personal needs. With their sliding scale, the collective’s workshop, Bike Forth, is affordable to all.
The Bike Collective began early in 2005, when Ted Buehler and Chris Congleton, who both came to UCD from other universities that had similar organizations, saw a need for a place at UCD where students could get help repairing their bikes. Ted and Chris soon recruited others and started a “Bike Church,” named after the one in Santa Cruz, where students and other residents in Davis could get help maintaining and repairing their bikes several days a week.
While Ted and Chris have since finished their graduate work and left Davis, the Bike Collective, including some of the early members Matt Seitzler, Jason Moore, and many others, survived from 2005-2008.
By the fall of 2008, the Bike Church had both grown and outgrown its welcome at UCD. After pursuing various alternatives, Solar Community Housing Association came to the rescue and worked with the Bike Collective to find a home (Bike Forth) at L Street and 4th Street, incorporate itself as a nonprofit organization, and set up a webpage (www.davisbikecollective.org).
The transition was a painful time for the group – all volunteers – with little time to spare and more interest in “doing” than “administering” a non-profit business. But they trudged through the process, and now Bike Forth helps a few thousand people each year.
Jason exemplifies the creative and caring people who have developed the Bike Collective. Since he was a high school student in rural Virginia where he built things such as a moonshine still, an electric guitar and various bikes, he has been a “maker.” As a new UCD engineering graduate student in the fall of 2005, Jason joined the Bike Church for balance. He explained, “I needed time to come back to reality and interact with people outside the “ivory tower.”
Pursuing his developing interest in bicycles, he traveled to the Netherlands on a Fulbright scholarship to research how people balance on bikes. During his spare time, Jason admired the bicycle culture.
In the States, we either treat the bicycle as a toy or as sports equipment. We forget that it can be a very efficient, pleasant, and healthy mode of transportation. In the Netherlands, bicycles serve as transportation first, and secondarily, as toys and sports equipment. I realized that bikes were a viable alternative to cars in urban areas.”
Jason notes, “The Netherlands changed my attitude of what bicycling can be. In the States, we either treat the bicycle as a toy or as sports equipment. We forget that it can be a very efficient, pleasant, and healthy mode of transportation. In the Netherlands, bicycles serve as transportation first, and secondarily, as toys and sports equipment. I realized that bikes were a viable alternative to cars in urban areas.”
Jason says, “I am pleased that Bike Forth is located across from the intake for the Rotating Winter Shelter. Homeless individuals, whose main possession may be a bike, use Bike Forth to keep their bikes in shape.”
With regard to climate change, Jason notes, “Bikes are and will be important as we all learn to live with less. Cities need to include bikes as part of their current and future transportation plans. What cities need – including Davis – is a real, old-fashioned ‘Bike Revival! Now!’”
Cool Davis is a coalition of citizens, the City of Davis, and community organizations working to empower our community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.