The children’s program is on break and our building is open only in the mornings for the month of May, but that doesn’t mean we’re not busy at Patchwork. Every morning our building is full of visitors enjoying a cup of coffee, getting food from the food pantry, taking showers, using the phone, and visiting with all of us in the offices.
- Accepting used bikes from donors and refurbishing them to give out to new owners who need transportation.
- Repairing bikes for their existing owners who are reliant on them for transportation.
- Working with other groups to help build momentum for a central bike refurbishing center that would be a place for skilled volunteers to repair bikes and would then send these refurbished bikes to agencies like Patchwork who would then distribute the bikes to people who need them.
Pete says that in the year since the Bike Shop has reopened, his time spent helping bike owners keep their bikes working and on the street to use as reliable transportation has increased dramatically, slowing progress refurbishing bikes to give out to new owners and creating a waiting list of 5-6 people.
“Someone will come in and say, ‘I have to be at work at 2:00 and my bike doesn’t work,'” Pete says. “We stop what we’re doing and repair the guy’s bike. Tuesday morning there was a man here who had an 11:00 appointment for a second fitting for his dentures but his bike had a flat tire.”
Repairs range from adjusting breaks, adding new tubes, or even adding custom items like a rack. Thursday, Stephen was in the shop making final adjustments to a new rack on the back of his bike. “It looks simple,” he said, “But it’s invaluable to me. If I go to the store or something like that, I need it.”
I’ve seen bikes acquired through the Patchwork Bike Shop out on the road and in use in the neighborhood. One belongs to Al and his parrot Midler. It was a match made in heaven: an extra large bike was waiting in our storage area when the more than 6-foot-tall Al came in looking for transportation. The bike came with an electronic odometer and Pete challenged Al to keep track of how many miles our bike is able to carry him.
Pete says that almost everyone is courteous and very thankful for the service. Occasionally someone comes along who is angry or disagreeable, but even they come back the next day to apologize and explain that they had been under a lot of stress and were pressed for time.