O n a Tuesday at 5 p.m., the Bikery , a one-room, not-for-profit bicycle workshop in the Central District, is already filled to capacity. Fletcher>"/>
On a Tuesday at 5 p.m., the Bikery, a one-room, not-for-profit bicycle workshop in the Central District, is already filled to capacity. Fletcher Christie, a blonde volunteer with a pixie cut and a bike tattoo on her shoulder, explains something in Spanish to a guy in a Mariners cap. Every inch of the small space—the areas that aren't already occupied by people working on bikes in various stages of completion—is piled with tires and other jetsam. Bare bike frames hang from the ceiling. Parts are everywhere. If you don't watch your step, you might trip on an errant hub.
Until last October, the Bikery collective (mostly comprising folks in their mid- to late 20s) held its workshops wherever it could: at the Garfield Community Center, in empty bank parking lots on weekends, and in people's garages. Rent's not cheap here, but Ellie Kaszniak, a Bikery volunteer who's been involved with the cooperative since it began almost three years ago, says it was important to find an address that was fixed, accessible, and not in somebody's backyard. "We wanted it to be a community space," she says.
After years of roving, the Bikery opened its current Central District location last October. Word's traveled fast, both among adults and neighborhood kids, and the nice summer weather means more people than ever are coming to avail themselves of the volunteer staff's free advice, cheap parts, cheap rebuilt bikes, and inexpensive bike-maintenance classes ($5–$15 donation).
The one thing the Bikery doesn't offer is mechanic services. No one here is going to fix your bike for you, because the Bikery wants to promote self-sufficiency. And how self-sufficient can you really be if you don't know how to make simple repairs?
Cooperative bike workshops like this aren't a new phenomenon. Other bike co-ops with similar philosophies exist not only in Seattleâ€"like the Bike Shack in Wallingfordâ€"but around the country. But what sets the Bikery apart is its emphasis on deconstructing the dominant bike culture and opening up cycling as an activity for everyone to enjoy.
Above all, the Bikery strives to build a diverse, respectful, bike-centric community that includes nearby residents, while actively attempting not to contribute to the gentrification of the Central District neighborhood where the Bikery's located (on Main Street, near the corner of Rainier Avenue South and South Jackson Street). "While we all clearly like bikes, a lot of people come to the Bikery not because they're necessarily bike geeks, but because they're into the idea of community," Christie says. Kaszniak is especially excited that neighborhood kids have discovered the place. "My biggest goal with the Bikery," she says, "is that the kids coming in now will eventually be the ones running it."â€"Sara Brickner