Spoke Talk: Beyond Bike Match | SteamboatToday.com

Spoke Talk: Beyond Bike Match

Matthew Rochon
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

A few weeks ago, our Spoke Talk gave an overview of the Routt County Riders’ Bike Match program. For this Spoke Talk, let’s address moving toward a bicycle hub that gives everyone in Routt County access to a bicycle, a place to work on it and the skills and knowledge to do so.

This season, Bike Match has grown from an organization with one part-time paid employee, fixing and matching donated bikes from his garage, to a program that routinely employs 15 volunteer mechanics, several bike shops and several local nonprofit partner organizations. Even with amazing donors providing serviceable bikes for the program, we find ourselves falling far short of what a bike hub could be doing for our community.

To-date, we’ve matched 56 bicycles, but we haven’t been able to address the growing need for cycling-related education. This includes a lot of things. We’ve provided helmets, but outside of a brief exchange, we haven’t provided accompanying education on the importance of wearing them. Similarly, we see through our interactions a growing need to teach kids riding bikes — or ebikes — about cycling etiquette, safety and maintenance.

Our volunteer mechanics, along with Boys & Girls Club youth, washed and repaired the entire Boys & Girls Club fleet, over 20 bicycles, before moving them to storage for next season. We also fixed bikes over the course of the summer because many kids don’t know how to care for their bikes.

There are things every bike operator should know, like how to remedy a clicking gear or adjust the brakes by using barrel adjusters, change a flat tire or just put the chain back on when it falls off. By the way, if you’re in the group of people who take your bike to our overworked bike shops for these kinds of things, wouldn’t it be nice to have a place that helps you spend five minutes to skip the bike shop while they do more technical work that requires special tools and expertise?

What if there were a place in our community where there were a few bike stands, some tools and a knowledgeable mechanic who was there to help us out? What if we could also take our kids there to get a serviceable used bike when they’re learning to ride or when they outgrow the ones they have, and they could also be taught how to safely use and care for their bikes?

Having a bicycle hub isn’t a new or difficult concept, and many places already have these organizations serving their communities. In Tucson, Arizona, it’s called Bicycle Inter Community Art & Salvage, or BICAS. Free Cycles in Missoula is another fantastic example or the Fort Collins Bike Co-op.

So, if like us, you love bikes and think they are an important part of bringing our community together (check out this video on Dutch Cycling culture), or you just like having less people driving short distances on our roads, then please visit these websites to see what might be, consider joining Routt County Riders and please, reach out to us and let us know your thoughts on how we can share the fun, freedom, transportation and recreation cycling provides.

Matthew Rochon is the Routt County Riders community outreach program manager. He loves living in a community that shares his passion for cycling. If you want to donate, learn more or volunteer, reach out to Matthew and RCR Bike Match at matthew@routtcountyriders.org.

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