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The Valid Bike Shop has been very busy lately!  In addition to our regular work maintaining the Bike Fed’s fleet of 150 bikes for our Safe Routes to School Program, we just started doing mobile bike repairs in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.

(Originally Posted September 24th, 2015)

The Valid Shop Community Mobile Repair program is a partnership between Walnut Way Conservation Corp, The City of Milwaukee Neighborhood Improvement Development Commission. Using a Larry Vs Harry Bullitt Cargo Bike the Valid staff ride to various community sites in the 53206 and 53205 zip codes to do free basic repairs. We launched the new program September 21st, and it will run until October 30th. We will visit seven different locations for a week at a time.

Returning to the site behind Walnut Way’s offices.

This year is a pilot of sorts, but we already partnered have a very successful mobile repair program in the Layton Blvd West Neighborhood near our Milwaukee office. That program, sponsored by a grant from State Farm Insurance, helped us figure out the do’s and dont’s and how to build relationships in the communities where we are working. For instance in addition to flyering the neighborhood, we learned that it helps to go to a site, have one mechanic set up shop and have the other ride around the surrounding blocks for half an hour on the Bullitt to remind neighbors we are doing repairs. Kind of like the Pied Piper, people with bikes come out of the woodwork and follow us back to our repair site.

Bottom bracket repair on a full suspension bike? Sure, no problem!
Eric repairs a flat tire, one of the most common needs in a bike shop desert.

In the spirit of teach a person to fish, we offer fix a flat and lessons and teach how to fix their bikes themselves as we work on their bike. We are also going to work with four neighborhood kids who want to help. After they put in the required hours volunteering, each of them will receive a Park Tool Starter kit to take home!

Even with a very small budget, the Valid Shop staff  have been able to teach basic mechanic skills to students in an MATC welding class next door to our shop in North Division High School. We have also held fix-a-flat clinics with North Division Summer Community Learning Center youth. When we get bikes donated that are too small to be used in our Safe Routes to School Program, we repair them and give them away at events.

This other work we do is really appreciated by the communities, but the Valid Shops’s main mission is to maintain our fleet of bikes for the Safe Routes to School Education Program. These bikes get ridden many  miles by thousands of kids, and they are trucked to and from sites all over the city to 30+ sites, so they take a beating, and need to keep on ticking! That work is currently done primarily by our staff two Shop Assistants, AJ Sloan and De’Aundre Lee, under the oversight of head mechanic Eric Crouthamal.

Learning how to use a floor pump after we repair the flat tire.

A.J. and De’Aundre both came to the Bike Fed through Mayor Barrett’s Earn and Learn Summer Program. It is a partnership with the Milwaukee Area Work Force Investment Board that provides 8 week summer job opportunities to youth ages 14-19. It focuses on giving youth soft skills training as well as hands on training in jobs in the real world. De’Aundre went to work for DreamBikes for a while after the program ended and AJ was brought back a couple years ago after the program ended to be an assistant mechanic at Valid.

Our Valid Bike Shop Programs would not be possible if it weren’t for the kind donations from State Farm Insurance and last year’s Fund-A-Need at the Saris Gala. A HUGE thanks goes out to those who gave last year. The Valid Shop will once again be featured in our live auction Fund-a-Need at the Gala again this weekend. I look forward to seeing everyone again this Friday at the Gala!