The Bike Co-op Launches a New Initiative with NYCEDC and DOT
New York, NY: This weekend, July 18th and 19th, Mechanical Gardens Bike Co-op (MGBC) will host a Bike Build-a-Thon to assemble fifty bicycles for NYC essential healthcare workers at the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT). New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will distribute the bicycles to essential workers through its local hospital partners, and has temporarily donated a large ground-floor space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) for the event. The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) has secured the donation of fifty new-in-box bikes from Kent Bicycles in New Jersey. The Bike Co-op is providing the tools and workshop supplies, organizing a crew of community volunteers, and training people on-site to undertake the ambitious mass bike build.
Mechanical Gardens is also providing four “novice apprentice” fellowships for young leaders from the Fearless Flyers program, the NYC youth ride club (16-25) run by the LGBTQ+ group Out Cycling, thanks to funding from the Citizens Committee of New York, the Awesome Foundation, and Lyft.
The initiative expands the Bike Coop’s mission to increase bike equity in NYC by expanding access to bikes, repairs, and mechanical education. “Fair access to biking depends on fair access to bikes, repairs, and mechanical education,” says Josh Bisker, Executive Director of the Mechanical Gardens Bike Co-op.
“COVID has made bicycling critical to safe movement in NYC, and set off a national bicycle shortage that has intensified NYC’s long-standing bike equity crisis,” says Bisker. “Thanks to the City’s leadership in making a space available to safely execute this program, we can bring resources to bear where the need is most urgent: getting bikes to health care workers at the front line of the city’s COVID defense.”
The program is about more than giving away bikes. “Just like the virus itself, the scarcity of affordable bike hits hardest again Black, brown, and poor communities, and without a bike, you risk higher exposure to COVID whenever you move around town. It’s a vicious cycle, and it shows how now more than ever bicycling is a frontline against structural racism and democratic inequality in NYC,” says Bisker. “We’re grateful for the NYC EDC and DOT’s leadership on this project, we can provide healthcare workers with bikes that will keep them safe during the pandemic. Simultaneously, thanks to the Citizens Committee, Awesome Foundation, and Lyft, we can begin training a group of young BI POC LGBTQ+ leaders in bike repair fundamentals, building community capacity to weather this crisis and grow stronger.”
The program builds on prior DOT-MGBC partnerships to deliver neighborhood pop-ups and hands-on workshops for bicycle education and repairs, and is the Bike Co-op’s first partnership with NYC EDC.
“We are proud of our collaboration with our partners at NYCEDC, Lyft, and others to provide bikes at no cost to hospital staff and other essential workers who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We thank the Mechanical Gardens Bike Co-op for this new effort to give even more workers access to convenient bicycle commutes, while also making sure New Yorkers in more communities have bike maintenance skills.”
“We are thrilled that the Brooklyn Army Terminal can serve as a hub to assemble bikes for our front-line healthcare workers,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “It is inspiring to see these incredible youth volunteers come together to support those who have given our city so much. Efforts like these remind us of New York’s resilience and that when we come together, we can meet any challenge.”
“We were excited to be a part of this project even before the first training workshop, and now this is all we can talk about. Many of the young people in the Fearless Flyers program use their bikes as their primary form of transportation, their source of income, and a way to stay active and fit,” says Momo Ullah, Operations and Event Manager for OutCycling and the Fearless Flyers Youth Program. “Working with the Mechanical Gardens is giving us confidence in our own abilities to take care of our bikes, and the workshops take away any worries we had about learning how to do it. Everyone is excited, and we can’t wait for the Build-a-Thon to kick off. We’ll get to use what we’re learning to support health care workers with great new bikes, and after we’re done, we’ll get to use the same skills to fix and maintain our own bikes too.”
ABOUT Mechanical Gardens Bike Co-op
Mechanical Gardens is a collectively owned and operated bicycle co-operative that provides access to the tools and education that New Yorkers need to fix their own bikes. Since 2016, Mechanical Garden’s weekly Open Hours, hosted at St John’s Church in Brooklyn, offer an accessible, free or donation-based space for New Yorkers to work on bikes. Mechanical Gardens is a project of 501(c)3 Alliance for Global Justice.
New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.