Mobile Bike Hub Brings Service to Bike Shop Desert

Pass through the Silver City neighborhood of Milwaukee’s near south side and you will find plenty of amenities that make this cultural-diverse area a great place to live, work and ride a bike. The Menomonee Valley Passage created convenient and quick access to the Hank Aaron State Trail, which is a big reason the Wisconsin Bike Fed, the Urban Ecology Center and La Escuela Verde moved into the neighborhood.

But you won’t find a bike shop.

This part of Milwaukee is a “bike shop desert,” with most residents lacking easy access to bicycle repair services and basic spare parts like tubes and tires. Not having a bicycle shop near one’s home, to repair a flat tire for example, can be the contributing factor to people not riding their bike.

To help remedy this, the Wisconsin Bike Fed is operating a mobile bicycle repair program in partnership with the Layton Boulevard West Neighbors Association in July. In 2013, the Bike Fed originally helped LBWN start the Mobile Bike Hub, which has been in operation since then thanks to generous sponsorship from State Farm Insurance. We have operated the Mobile Bike Hub all summer, and are now in negotiations to make the Mobile Bike Hub an official feature for 2016.

Gabe Manzanet, Lead Intern, rides the trike to the onsite visits, where he is responsible for delegating tasks. Photo by Richard Beauchamp

The cornerstone of this mobile repair program is the Mobile Bike Hub, a custom-built trike equipped with a toolbox outfitted with all the tools and parts such as tires, inner tubes, or brakes needed to get people back on their bikes. Both parts and service work are provided free of charge to the residents of the Layton Boulevard West neighborhoods.

To date, the Mobile Bike Hub has made over 100 site visits, providing a variety of services and repairs to over 500 bikes.

The Bike Repair Hub program was started in 2013 to fulfill two initiatives in the Layton Boulevard West Neighbors (LBWN) Quality of Life Plan — one dealing with promoting “Healthy Living” and another dealing with “Youth Education and Leadership.”

The Mobile Bike Hub helps fulfill the first by getting people back on their bikes.

This youth received a full scale training on how to fix a flat. Photo by Richard Beauchamp

The Mobile Bike Hub program also contains a workforce development initiative that cultivates and empowers youth by employing three summer interns from neighborhood high schools, Escuela Verde and Carmen.

The interns utilize teamwork effectively to get residents back on their bikes as soon as possible. Photo by Richard Beauchamp

The Bike Fed could not do it without the generous support of our community partners. It is with great gratitude, that we thank all the Mobile Bike Hub partners, State Farm, Charles D. Jacobus Family Foundation, Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation, LISC Milwaukee, and the Zilber Family Foundation.

The Mobile Bike Hub gets people back on their bikes and promotes youth job readiness. There is no doubt, the Mobile Bike Hub program has enhanced and diversified the Bike Fed’s portfolio.

Photo by Richard Beauchamp

For further information or questions, please contact Peter Armstrong Petera@wisconsinbikefed.org

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