Today was a wonderfully uneventful day. Drove to Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op [https://bsbc.co/] in downtown New Haven, CT with one of my children, bought a used bike, replaced a seat post on one of my own used bikes, got three replacement tubes—just in case of unexpected flats on the road.
While US cities are confronting and dealing with such big and difficult issues of racism, inequities, police brutality, looting and more, all is calm on Bradley Street. It is a rather uneventful, wonderful day. Outside the old brick building with a huge open garage, people of all ages from all walks of life wait for John Martin and his team to repair bikes, sell used bikes, or (during non-Corona times) lend tools and teach bike repair.
As the website notes, “The Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op is a community bike shop working towards an equitable New Haven by getting people on bikes…We are a community learning with our hands, laughing with strangers, and building a better world together…We make decisions based on principles and beliefs, not based on what makes us more money. We take care of each other and love meeting new friends. We always show up; to the shop, to events, to things that mean something to one another.”
Not yet a believer as to why every city in the world needs half a dozen Bradley Street Bicycle Co-ops? Read on:
Why We Exist
A healthy city is diverse, equal, and sustainable. Healthy cities do not happen naturally; we all must take part in building and maintaining its physical, social, and cultural fabric.
New Haven is incredibly diverse, vibrant, and passionate. But it also has deep obstacles to overcome. Our neighborhoods are divided, the gap between the rich and the poor is one of the highest in the United States, and we don’t spend enough time with people who are different than us. This is not a problem for just some of us, this is a pain that affects us all. But as we see ripples of segregation affect our communities, we also see ways to make it better.
Our answer is not ‘bikes will save the world’; building healthy cities is about much more than physical objects. But bikes can serve as a tool and a platform for change. The mission of the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op is broad: we focus on the problem and the person while forging a better path forward. We need to give more to those who have less and we need to spend more time with each other. We built the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op to do this.
Why bikes? In New Haven, lack of quality transportation is rated as the highest problem people face when accessing the job market. Owning a car is expensive, our public transportation system is unreliable, and walking is often too slow or not an option. Bikes provide a low-cost, highly efficient way of moving through the city. Bikes vastly improve job access to those without cars. They are cheap to acquire and maintain. They increase physical exercise, they keep our environment clean, and through their maintenance and upkeep they provide a platform for coming together. And they are fun! The more people we can get on bikes, especially those with need, the more we can gain job access and reduce income inequality.
Why spend more time together? Every time we run Shop Hours and work together to get more bikes back in the streets in a diverse and inclusive space, the less divided and more healthy our city becomes. By hanging out, making new friends, and working together to fix bikes, the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op helps us listen to each other, give out more trust, and love New Haven.
I love bikes, bike stores, and bike gadgets. I have visited bike stores in other cities, states and countries. There is NOTHING like schmoozing with bike lovers with good values and kind hearts—all while searching in used parts bins for an old bike bell, a used seat and reflectors. See you at Bradley Street Co-op!