09/30/09

Transit for Livable Communities Funds Bike Library at Sibley Bike Depot Transit for Livable Communities Funds Bike Library at Sibley Bike Depot

Transit for Livable Communities, through the Bike Walk Twin Cities initiative, is excited to award $193,200 for the Sibley Bike Depot new Community Partners Bike Library. This program will enable patrons to check out a bicycle at no cost for an extended period of time from a fleet of 220 refurbished bikes. The program will launch in April 2010.

Sibley will work with new and established partners to put bikes in the hands of folks who will benefit substantially from affordable, reliable transportation. These partners include local luminary capacity-builders of low-income populations: Center for Victims of Torture, Project for Pride in Living, the Jobs First Program of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Skyline Towers Advantage Center, Youth Farm and Market Project, and others.

We are keenly aware that lack of reliable transportation is a significant barrier for many low-income families. Bicycle travel is an important component of self-sufficiency and economic viability for many users, providing efficient access to jobs, classes, errands, and appointments. With connections to transit, bicyclists can extend the range of their trips substantially.

Partner organizations will screen and select among their clients for participation in the Bike Library program, and help monitor use of bikes by their clients. The Library program includes mandatory safety training for all patrons. Library bikes are intended to serve as primary transportation and so come equipped with light, rack, lock, and fenders; check-out includes helmet and map.

Sibley Bike Depot's ongoing efforts include an earn-a-bike program, enabling those who could not otherwise afford a bike to earn refurbished wheels by volunteering in the Sibley shop. Sibley teaches classes in bike maintenance, winter commuting, bicycle trailer construction, and more. It also organizes group rides and has an open shop for all members of the community.

The Community Partners Bike Library is an excellent investment of Bike Walk Twin Cities pilot funds and we’re excited to support the efforts of Sibley Bike Depot in this work.

Comments

Alex Strachota: An Open Letter

An open letter of encouragement and praise to the Sibley Bike Depot and Transit for Livable Communities:

I wanted to congratulate everyone at the Sibley Bike Depot and Transit for Livable Communities for their work and heartily cheer on the Community Partners Bike Library project. The concept is brilliant; I praise the attempt to push for non-motorized transportation as a financially sustainable and healthy transit method for the marginalized and poor in our communities.

As a car-free individual, commuting by bicycle year-round, I often think about the oppressed and struggling people in cars next to me on the road, and how privileged I am (being white, male, educated, middle-class) to have the self-assurance to chose such a "lowly" transportation method as the bicycle. I see that, as the automobile has come to signify wealth and success in our culture, the poor struggle to satisfy the "car ownership" criterion of the American Dream, making huge financial sacrifices only to support the miseries of owning an automobile--paying for gas, insurance, repairs, etc. That the poor of our country are collectively turning over millions of hard-earned dollars to the destructive petroleum-highway-automobile corporate complex is a depressing reality indeed. Add to that the glaring fact that obesity, diabetes, and other diseases of sedentary culture (read: car culture) disproportionately afflict the poor.

The health impacts alone of bike-commuting are hugely significant, not to mention the financial savings and "sense-of-place" community building that comes with an abundance of people using human-paced transit. Some of our most impoverished and struggling communities are currently overrun with cars--busy streets with high-speed traffic abound, street parking is packed, sub-par air quality is common, etc. With viable biking and walking infrastructure and even fractional mode shift, these blighted areas could rise from the ashes (and do so without immediately being accompanied by gentrification).

I'm immensely glad that this project is going forward. I think it's a hugely important project, one that bicycling advocacy groups and the greater cycling community need to watch closely and develop further. Just like the "food justice" movement, which is taking the currently privileged "organic" and "local" distinctions and fighting for healthy, just, and sustainable food systems for all people, this "bicycle justice" movement--as it were--must transcend what is currently thought of as "bike culture"--essentially a privileged distinction--to fighting for a system wherein bicycle transit is accessible, affordable, and frankly--in spite of the class and cultural challenges mentioned above--desirable for all.

We who praise the bicycle as an exciting, empowering, and revolutionary tool must fight to bring its wonderful potential to people far removed from the current "bike culture". Seeing the present for what it is--a veritable watershed moment, with the convergence of economic turmoil, rising energy costs, environmental degradation, and broken communities--I hope we will take this opportunity to widen and diversify the place of the bicycle in our society, so that all people may feel its benefits.

Thanks again for your important work.
Sincerely,
Alex Strachota

Wow! I completely agree with

Wow! I completely agree with you Alex. Thanks for such amazing insights and powerful prose.