News Volunteers

Expanding Our Reach Beyond the Back Alley

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

As the year ends, I want to look back at one of our new, major programs from 2022: Mobile Bike Repair Clinics.

Getting a broken bike to the Sharing Wheels shop for quick repairs can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for someone who lives beyond our neighborhood or has no other mode of transportation. We recognized this and decided to act.  

Partnering with the Evergreen and Mariner libraries, churches, and other places where low-income folks might congregate, we set up our pop-up repair stand and offered 15 free bike repairs events in 2022! 

Off we went into the community, with two volunteer mechanics, a mobile tool kit, and lots of extra bike parts. And like so many of our in-shop encounters, our services were not limited to free repairs.  

One of our very first customers at the Mariner Library clinic was a middle schooler who lived at the homeless shelter across the street and had scheduled his summer day around being first in line at our pop-up repair clinic. He rolled in with a wobbly rear tire just as we were setting up, using both his feet to slow him down, asking if we could fix his bike. 

Turned out his bike was hopelessly beyond repair, but we fixed the wheel and did our best with the brakes. We arranged with his mom to deliver a much safer and fully functional bike, as well as a ‘super cool’ skater helmet, from our shop inventory the following week.  He was pleased and so were we!  

And bikes weren’t the only wheeled form of transportation we fixed. At the First Baptist Church in downtown Everett we repaired 10 walkers (all of which were long overdue for maintenance) while customers enjoyed the church’s Friday night meal service. It felt good to help and see people maneuvering their repaired walkers back to the bus stop with ease. 

Of the 79 people we served at our free mobile bike repair clinics this year, these are just a couple examples of the meaningful contributions and impact we have on people and their ability to stay mobile. 

And simply none of the repairs could have happened without a grant from The Larson Legacy Foundation or our amazing volunteers who staffed the pop-up repair stand and greeted every customer and their bikes with respect and encouragement. The volunteers’ dedication to our mission, of keeping people and bikes (and now walkers!) moving, allows us to continue to expand our offerings beyond the walls of our shop. 

It’s been a privilege to work with our community partners who have helped promote this new program and we can’t wait to double down in 2023 with even more bike repair events around Snohomish County.