Saturday, June 15, 2024

BikeWalk Williamsburg Bike Co-Op Provides Wheels for All

Bike Co-Op volunteers are always willing to help those who come in the shop (BikeWalk Williamsburg)

WILLIAMSBURG — BikeWalk Williamsburg’s Bike Co-Op is helping people go from two legs to two wheels at its reduced-cost bike shop on Merrimac Trail.

Danielle Lawson, the manager of the co-op, explained how it works.

“The concept is that we receive bike donations. We have mechanic volunteers who work to refurbish the bicycles and we also have customer service volunteers who help people fit a bike, pick a bike, and provide checkout services. The primary goal is to place bikes with people who can’t afford them,” Lawson said.

The co-op partners with local social service organizations to assist with the bicycle needs in the community. The co-op has bikes available at bargain prices for all ages and those who qualify through social services get a bike for free.

Lawson sees how important bikes can be to a community working at the co-op each week.

A happy client with their new bike (BikeWalk Williamsburg)

“It really is cool to have people come in who will tell you how this bike they are receiving allows them to get to work or school. We have clients who have come who are refugees who can’t get a driver’s license or people who are down on their luck. Just something as simple as a bicycle can help these people provide for themselves and their families,” Lawson said.

Each client who qualifies for the free bike through social services also receives a free helmet, a free lock, and a free light.

The shop is run by volunteers, which also helps the community. Those volunteers are also conscious of the environment, constantly stripping bikes for parts and doing what they can to help decrease landfill usage.

“For our volunteers, it’s become a personal mission to be there for the clients. They are feeling like they are able to connect with people and they are doing something meaningful and using their skills for good,” Lawson said.

Getting a bike may be the most exciting thing, but what about basic repairs? The Bike Co-Op also hosts DIY repair hours where the public can come and learn how to fix things on their bike like broken chains, flat tires, and bent spokes.

A volunteer mechanic helps fix a bike at the Williamsburg Bike Co-op (Bike Walk Williamsburg)

“You give someone a bike, and if they are putting a lot of miles on it by commuting to work or school, you need to teach them how to repair those bikes. Our mechanics will work with clients on learning how to do the repairs themselves. It’s very reminiscent of the ‘teach a man to fish’ concept which is really cool,” Lawson said.

DIY repair hours are offered on a donation basis.

“Anytime you can empower someone to do something themselves, that’s where you want to put your efforts. Giving someone a bike can be really empowering thing, but adding in giving them the knowledge to make the repairs themselves can really help build confidence,” Lawson said.

DIY Repair hours are Monday from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. The shop is open Thursdays from 5-7 p.m., Fridays from noon to 3 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 am to 3 p.m.

For more information, visit the BikeWalk Williamsburg website.

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