Bike Repair Hub at New Columbia opens
By Cari Hachmann/ The Portland Observer
While Portland may be recognized as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, this reality does not accurately represent all residents, particularly communities of color and people living on low-incomes.
Three years ago, Alberta Street’s Community Cycling Center set about trying to understand why more people in some north and northeast neighborhoods don’t ride bikes.
In the non-profit’s recent community assessment, “Understanding Barriers to Bicycling Project,” the cycling center’s staff found that complex and interrelated barriers like cost, safety, education and gentrification puts bicycling out of reach for many low-income people.
In its continued effort to remove such barriers and improve access to bicycling, the Community Cycling Center built a new Bike Repair Hub in north Portland’s New Columbia neighborhood for all walks of cyclists to benefit.
“We believe all Portlanders deserve access to healthy choices for active living and transportation, regardless of their income, education, ethnic background, or street address,” said Alison Graves, executive director of the cycling center.
Sitting on 82 acres, New Columbia is home to a historically disadvantaged population. With more than 2,500 residents originating from 22 different countries and speaking 11 languages, 70 percent of New Columbia’s residents live on low-income.
Over the past couple years; in collaboration with Home Forward, Portland’s public housing agency, and a We Can All Ride resident-led bike committee, the cycling center has worked closely with local residents to address the neighborhood’s bicycling needs.
The lack of an affordable and nearby bicycle repair shop sparked the idea to build one on a vacant lot in the neighborhood.
The group won $10,000 from the national bike coalition Bikes Belong to build a hub and outdoor training space. Bike Gallery also contributed money and the project was supported by Portland Development Commission.
Graduate student artists from the Oregon College of Art and Craft and Pacific Northwest College of Art helped to construct the 196-square-foot hub which comes with a patio and a porch.
The Bike Repair Hub will offer affordable bike repair and maintenance clinics two days a week. Trained residents will also lead weekly bike rides where kids can explore their neighborhood, make friends and enjoy travel on two wheels.
“I see the need for the Bike Repair Hub,” says Michelle Hanna, a New Columbia resident. “Kids have bikes that need repairs. For one reason or another, bikes break down and we need something there to get the bikes fixed.”
The Community Cycling Center hopes to continue to break barriers to bicycling by partnering with the local community.
“These collaborations have shifted and enriched our organizational culture, with a focus on diversity and inclusion,” said Graves. “This evolution has given us the ability to influence policy investments and ensure equity is a priority.”