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News Volunteers

Bike Repair on the Move

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

Our mission to keep people and bikes moving is expanding way beyond our shop walls…

Last week we kicked off the first of several scheduled mobile bike repair outings for 2022. Thanks to the kind and generous Larson Legacy grant we can now bring our volunteer mechanics (along with a tool box and lots of bike parts) to the streets of Everett and perform minor bike repairs for free.

Not only is this service a great way for us to increase Sharing Wheel’s visibility, but it also enables us to reach a geographically wider and more diverse audience.

Want to meet our biking community members where they congregate and help fix their flat tires and worn brakes? We still need volunteers to sign up and staff these community pop-up events.

We have regularly scheduled repair clinics at First Baptist Church and Evergreen Library and (fingers crossed) soon to be set up at the downtown Everett Library and in the Casino Road neighborhood (South Everett).

Increasing access to bike repair services has been a long-time goal of Sharing Wheels. With the help of our talented volunteers and supportive community partners we can now temporarily ‘park’ ourselves on the streets of Everett and offer repair services in multiple neighborhoods. 

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News Volunteers

Meet Don

New volunteer loves classic bikes

Don began volunteering with Sharing Wheels in November 2020 and has already donated nearly 100 hours of his time! He has personally repaired, in the comfort and safety of his home garage, many of the ‘classics’ we have currently listed for sale in our shop.  We wanted to get to know a little more about him, so we asked him a few questions…

How did you first hear about Sharing Wheels?

In October 2020, my neighbor saw Sharing Wheels featured on the evening news. He emailed me “this sounds like it is right up your alley”. He could not have been more spot-on! 

What is it about the Sharing Wheels mission that connects with you and why?
The bicycle is such an affordable tool for transportation and recreation. Many of the bikes donated are from the 1970-90s and are simply in need of basic maintenance and replacement of consumable parts. Volunteer labor makes them affordable. The uneven distribution of resources in the world limits opportunity for many. We help level that a bit.  

Do you have a good “bike story” to share?
My romance with the bicycle goes back to riding a too big coaster brake bike, as many of us did. My first “project bike” came from the city dump, a 3-speed in need of much repair. I could not afford the prices at Chuck Dann’s Sporting Goods or the local Schwinn Shop so I ordered my white wall tires from the Montgomery Ward Store. I could not get everything from mail order, and since I was walking, I brazenly walked into the Schwinn Shop with my new tires to buy what I needed.  Apparently, Chuck did not hold it against me because later he offered me a job. Years later, that helped me get a job at Parkland Cycle doing repairs in the evening, while I attended vocational school.

Taking a break from my vocation I dropped into Fulton’s Bike and Mower in 1974 and spoke with Phyllis Fulton seeking employment as a bicycle mechanic. During our conversation her daughter Karolyn, stopped in and we were introduced. She left and went across the street to the pay phone, called her mom, and encouraged her to hire me. I worked there for two years and earned enough money to get married.

In August 1977, Karolyn and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in the San Juan Islands at a primitive campground with our Ford Falcon, our REI “Pup Tent” and our bicycles. We were camped right off the beach where the Washington State Ferries passed through the channel between us and the nearby island. We watched an eagle swoop down and catch a salmon, it was a wonderful spot. The book, Bicycling the Back Roads of Washington, had a nice ride starting from our campsite. After riding for what seemed like forever, we reached an undisclosed “No Trespassing” sign. After a short discussion we made a hasty dash and I am sure made some disparaging remarks about our guide book.

After days of heat and dust we treated ourselves to two nights at the ‘Hotel De Haro’, anxious for a warm shower and a good night’s sleep. Alas, the water main broke the previous day and there was no shower. Better yet, somehow the wallpaper between rooms was magically held in place so we could not see but could hear our neighbors, all too well!  

When you are not volunteering at Sharing Wheels, what do you like to do with your time?
In addition to most things bicycle we enjoy reading, camping, visiting our grandchildren, and enabling Boomer, our Golden Retriever, to manage our lives.

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News

Black Pioneers Who Paved The Road

Recognizing the determination and grit of the 25th Bicycle Regiment

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

It doesn’t take a genius to know who is going to win at a lane grab driving down the highway at 80mph next to an 18-wheeler with blinkers rapidly flashing. I learned this lesson early on a 4-day cross-country journey with my son. We headed out in his well-worn SUV packed with a mattress, clothes, and his beloved bike on our way to Pittsburgh to get him settled into graduate school. This was my third college drop off trip, but the first to take me across America. As we crossed the northern states, passing and being passed by countless vehicles, I imagined the millions of people who had made the same trek before us on foot, wagon, and bicycle – especially on bicycle.

Our first stop was Missoula, MT and it reminded me of a fascinating bicycling American history story I once heard. In 1896 the 25th Infantry, an all-black company based out of Missoula, MT, were volunteered by their white commanding officer to study the practicality of bicycles in the military. Most of the soldiers had no biking experience, and the 2000 mile journey they were ordered to make on 60 pound, gearless, steel- rimmed bikes surely tested their strength, but might also prove that bicycle-mounted troops have a place in the military.  These soldiers were the predecessors of the modern-day gravel riders; avoiding roads, carrying 55lbs of gear, camping on the land, albeit for duty rather than recreation.  Their arduous journey from Missoula to St. Louis on bicycle is well documented in short videos and articles and is worth a read if you are not familiar with the story.

Sharing Wheels has plenty of bikes and accessories to equip a modern-day cyclist, so don’t start your next journey without first stopping by our shop and having a look at all our biking equipment. And, if you happen to be traveling east by car, rather than a bike, just remember to always give way to the colossal steel on wheels with the flashing lights moving towards your lane.

 

 

 

 

 

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News

Annual Report 2020

Keeping People & Bikes Moving

By Executive Director Christy Cowley

Thanks to our volunteers and community support, Sharing Wheels served a huge need for healthy outdoor activity and affordable, personal transportation in 2020.

We couldn’t create community within our shop due to COVID limitations, so we built bikes and connections in new ways. Volunteers took bikes home to clean and fix. Local nonprofits helped us match bikes with adults and kids who needed them. Our board met monthly via Zoom. Donations of time, bikes and cash kept us rolling despite a difficult year.

Used Bicycles

Bike Sales: While retail bike shops ran low on inventory, quality donations kept us stocked with a huge variety of bike styles, sizes, and prices. We loved helping new riders buy a bike to fit their needs and budget. 246 bikes.

Kids Bikes: Instead of the annual Kids Bike Swap and Christmas House events, we matched bikes with families directly, and partnered with other nonprofits to distribute bikes to low income kids. 194 bikes.

DIY Shop Use: Our free self-help station was moved out to the garage due to COVID shop limits. That made it harder for people to access our tools and advice. 75% of our 129 users bike for transportation and report low income.

Volunteers

115 people spent 2,615 hours helping in the shop and from their own garages. Boeing, Microsoft, & F5 Networks gave $2,500 to match employee efforts.

Top Volunteers: Larry Williamson, Bruce McLachlin, John Kasey, Don Sperlin, Dave Fox, Claudia Douglass, Patrick Sullivan. More than 100 hours each.

Giving & Support

Individual donations doubled this year thanks to spring and year-end campaigns. Donations were needed because shop activity and revenue were reduced due to COVID. 71 people gave $50 or more.

Grants: City of Everett Community Development Block Grant, Everett Port Gardner Rotary, Stillaguamish Tribe.

Education & Outreach

Repair Classes: We managed to teach several small, in-person bike mechanic classes. We also started mini-courses for mechanical volunteers. 25 students.

Adult Earn-A-Bike: We taught 12 formerly homeless or at-risk adults to fix a flat, gave them a fully-equipped refurbished bike, and took them on their first ride. “This is the best bike I’ve ever owned,” said a grateful 80-year-old recipient.

Velo Art Contest: While most events were canceled, we started something new to put our excess new and used parts to creative use. 6 artists, lots of fun!

2020 Budget

Actual income and expenses for 2020.

Income

Bike Sales$43,899
Parts Sales$11,951
Donations$36,054
Grants$9,665
Repairs$3,466
Online Sales$6,205
Total$111,790*

Expenses

Staff$80,895
Bike Parts$10,680
Rent$7,850
Insurance, Fees$4,000
Adminstrative$4,350
Other Shop Costs$9,680
Total$117,455*
* The adopted budget anticipated use of reserves to balance.

Board of Directors

Kristin Kinnamon, President

Steve Erickson, Treasurer

Drew Ellison, Secretary

Claudia Douglass, Member

Bruce McLachlin, Member

Scott Schmitz, in memoriam

Staff

Christy Cowley, Executive Director

Alain Warchilde, Shop Manager

Categories
News

Bikes Still Mean Freedom

Older man stands with his bike at bus station
Gary loves his “new” Univega Range Rover.

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

Remember the joy of riding a bicycle as a child? Your whole world expanded because you could coast on two wheels.

2020 has been a year of limitations for all of us – where we go, who we see, how close we can get. Being on a bicycle still feels freeing, though.

Despite major changes to our usual kids bike events this year, Sharing Wheels volunteers refurbished about 150 bikes matched with low income families. While many volunteers stayed home due to COVID, you took bikes home to repair and bring back.

Affordable bikes were sold out at retail bike shops, but we still had – and have – a great variety to choose from. We’ve been able to keep up with record demand thanks to hundreds of bicycle donations (prompted by COVID-inspired cleaning).

I helped many people pick out their first bike in years. Customers bought bikes to use for transportation, to make up for closed gyms, to have a healthy way for families to be together outside. Biking has been an important escape for so many of us, myself included. Riding into the shop across the tidally-influenced Snohomish River reminds me that the world is still out there, ebbing and flowing.

An 80-year-old with a tear in his eye told me: “This is the best bike I’ve ever had in my life.” Gary got his refurbished Univega Range Rover from Sharing Wheels as part of a grant program funded by the City of Everett. The bike had fenders, a rack, and a bag full of tools to fix a flat tire – a skill participants learned as part of the program. Gary and I were at Everett Station, practicing how to put his new, lightweight bike on the bus.

Gary described his son as his caretaker, but the bike means Gary can get around on his own. Next year, riding 200 miles from Seattle to Portland is on Gary’s bucket list.

Bikes mean freedom, no matter your age.

Support our work with a year-end donation.

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Donations News

Learn & Earn-A-Bike 2020

This year, despite COVID challenges, we managed a City of Everett grant-funded program that provided bikes and bike training to low income adults. Most will be using the bikes for everyday transportation, including Traci, a mom of 4 kids.

After a difficult marriage to a veteran with PTSD, Traci is now divorced, living with her mom, and back at school to become a pastry chef. She doesn’t own a car. “Now I know how I’m going to get to class,” she said. It’s the first bike she’s had since growing up in Montana. Here in Washington, she’ll combine her bike with a bus ride to get from south Everett to Edmonds Community College.

Traci’s 17-year-old daughter hopes to come in to Sharing Wheels to earn her own bike, and to help fix bikes for the littler kids. The Sharing Wheels shop is now a resource for the whole family.

We had 11 people complete the program, all low income Everett residents. Most were referred by partners such as HopeWorks or Domestic Violence Services.

Participants started by meeting the Shop Manager Alain to select a suitable bike. Then they got a one-on-one “fix a flat” and basic maintenance class from Alain. Finally, when their bike was tuned up and fully equipped with fenders, rack and other accessories, we took people on a practice ride around Everett.

An 80-year-old with a tear in his eye told us: “This is the best bike I’ve ever had in my life.” Gary and I were at Everett Station, practicing how to put his refurbished Univega Range Rover on the bus.

Gary described his son as his caretaker, but the bike means Gary can get around on his own. Next year, riding 200 miles from Seattle to Portland is on Gary’s bucket list. Bikes mean freedom, no matter your age.

While our “Earn-A-Bike” grant is over, Sharing Wheels has always found ways to make bikes affordable for people who need them. Donors – of bikes and cash – support programs such as Work for Wheels and free access to the shop for do-it-yourself repairs and advice.