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Bike Kitchen gets cooking
Joseph Webster greets you with an almost handshake.
He stops early, realizes he's covered in grease, and excuses himself to get cleaned up.
“I'll be right back. Just have a look around.”
Webster runs the Fresno Bike Kitchen, a member-driven repository of bicycles, bike parts and tools that opened in back of the Hope for Humanity Thrift Shop last month. Modeled after shops in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the bike kitchen is a nonprofit community spot, where people can to come to talk bikes, recycle old parts, do a quick tune-up or work on projects.
There are shelves stacked with bike frames — vintage 10 speeds and newer mountain bikes — and rows of kick-standed Huffys and Schwinns, rusted, with torn seats and shredded wheels. They may not look like much, but with some new parts and a little grease they'll make great rides.
“People are so used to throwing this stuff away,” Webster says. “In actuality, they have life still.”
It's part of why Webster started the bike kitchen — to keep these things out of the dump. Especially children's bikes, Webster says. “People by them and they are one-time use. The kids outgrow them.”
Here, they get a good once-through and are put back in working order. There are a dozen or so parked in the shop and Webster is working with Fresno Unified to get them donated to kids.
Everything at the bike kitchen is available at low, or no, cost. Membership is $35 a year and includes use of the space and tools and scrap parts, at a minimal cost. If you have a fear of commitment, you can pay $5 per job, and know there will always be someone around to help you.
David Thammavongsa is down at the shop most days, doing a quick tune up or sifting through piles of old derailleurs and cranksets piled in cubbie holes in back. He bought a bike frame here and is building it out. Bicycle tools can be very specific. He doesn't own everything he would need — owns a wheel truing stand — and doesn't have the money to get them anyway.
The kitchen offers a great alternative.
Of course, he could be the odd case.
He owns five bikes, but not a car. He's never driven actually, doesn't know how.
For him, a place like this is about changing the image of bicyclists and what it means to ride. It's about making Fresno a better place to ride. That will come with exposure.
“It's all about getting people on bikes.”