Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
That’s the philosophy behind the Bike Church, a non-profit cooperatively-owned bike workshop in downtown Santa Cruz.
The Bike Church seeks to empower the community by teaching repair and maintenance skills to cyclists, as well as giving them low-cost access to tools and workspace. There’s a $5-per-hour suggested drop-in fee for access to the shop and help from mechanics, but no one is turned away for lack of funds.
Other options for payment are work-trade, and purchasing a membership. A lifetime membership is $100; $50 give you access for one year. Membership includes space in a shipping container located in the Bike Church’s yard, where you can store bike projects while you’re working on them.
The workshop contains nine workstands, three stands for truing wheels, and all the tools you would need to do any kind of basic repair or maintenance work on your bike. A kind and knowledgeable staff of volunteer mechanics are always present during open shop hours to help you learn anything currently outside of your skill set.
If you have little to no experience with how a bike works, or how to maintain one, I highly recommend attending one of their free “Intro to Bikes” classes, held the second Sunday of every month. You’ll learn the different parts and systems on a bike, how to maintain your bicycle, how to do basic repairs such as fix a flat, and even how to fit a helmet, or make sure your seat is at the correct height.
The organization receives donations of bikes which they sell in as is condition for very reasonable prices, teaching people how to fix them up if needed.
The Bike Church is always looking for volunteers who can commit several hours a week to helping out cyclists who drop into the shop. If you’re interested in volunteering, you can attend one of their weekly Volunteer Orientations for more information and to sign up. You don’t need to already possess mechanical knowledge as long as you’re interested in learning; it’s more important that volunteers be good communicators, have patience, and the ability to work well with all kinds of people.
Founded in 1998, the Bike Church is part of the Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Living, a network of organizations that promote sustainability through skill-sharing, proper reuse of parts and materials, and advocating people-powered transportation.
The shop can get quite busy at times; the best time to hit it with less of a crowd is right when the doors open.
Any and all folks interested in learning how to take care of that leg-powered machine getting them around town are encouraged to stop by and check out the Bike Church.