Building Community

One of the Union’s three central campaigns is building community. This is not limited to what might be thought of as the bicycling community, but instead seeks to push back the boundaries of who considers themselves a cyclist and who does not. In the Union view, anyone who has ever ridden a bike, anyone whoever thought they might want to ride a bike, and everyone who cares about someone who rides a bike is a part of our community. And when you get right down to it, that definition includes just about everyone in the city of Boston.

So when we go out to build community, we are generally saying hey to everyone and doing things that bring smiles to people’s faces, regardless of whether or not they ride a bike to work everyday.

Bike to Market

Bike to Market: Aisha works on a bike

Union Volunteer Aisha Shillingford fixes bikes at our Bike to Market tune-up stand

So far the Union’s main community building effort is Bike to Market, the farmer’s market free bike tune-up stand, funded in large part by a grant from the Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston Bikes program.

By giving away free bike repairs (okay, we charge a little bit for parts sometimes) we have reached out to hundreds of people who are toeing that line between cyclist and non-cyclists. We fixed their bike, we gave them good information on safe riding, and we asked them where they’d like to see bike lanes, cycletracks and other facilities in their neighborhoods.

We fixed over 620 bikes in the summer of 2010, including least 100 bikes that had been previously sitting in people’s basements, and 200 that had serious brake problems that were not being addressed. Often those bike with no brakes were owned by pre-adolescents and teens. So we’re not exaggerating when we say we may have saved a life or two out there.

Now and for the 2011 summer season, we plan to expand this program. To do so we will need your help.

Sponsoring just one Bike Tune Up Stand at your local farmer’s market can put anywhere from 30 to 125 bikes back on the road, and win you a lot of friends in the neighborhood. Sponsor’s names, or their organization’s names and information, are displayed prominently at the stand, and the sponsor has the option to give each bike repair recipient a message, such as “This bike repair courtesy of _______. Please ride safe out there!”

To sponsor, please fill out this membership form and check the “Sponsor a Farmer’s Market in 2011″ box at the bottom. You will then enter the secure PayPal website for safe payment.

Bike Safety Education

Union director Pete Stidman introduces speakers Galen Mook and Charlotte Burger at the first ever "Keep Your Head Out of the Gutter" bike safety event at the Ibex Clothing Store on Newbury Street.

In October of 2010, we launched our bike safety education initiative at the Ibex Clothing Store on Newbury Street. A short one-hour presentation covered important safety tips and ways that cyclists should behave in order to save their lives and also respect others on the road.