Schenectady’s free bike repair clinic is proving so popular that it needs to move to a bigger facility.
It’s making tracks from the Edison Tech Center downtown to the middle of Hamilton Hill, where many people rely on bicycles for more than just recreation.
Electric City Bike Rescue will partner with Koinonia Christian Center, a church that owns a vacant building on McClyman Street. Church officials wanted to turn it into a community center, but that was easier said than done. And despite much work, it has remained vacant.
Now, the bike repair volunteers plan to build a bathroom, repair masonry damage and repaint the place so that the building is up to code.
“They have the building available, and they’re anxious to get the bike repair in their neighborhood,” said bike clinic organizer Dave Davis. “We outgrew Edison Tech Center. They gave us a small amount of floor space to work in, but we have 10 to 15 people at a time.”
And Hamilton Hill is the perfect neighborhood for it, said the Rev. Ted Ward, Koinonia's pastor.
“It’s right in the heart of the city where a lot of bicycles are used,” he said. “A lot of adults and kids use bikes for transportation.”
Although the group focuses on children, adults can also bring their bikes in for repair. The goal is to teach cyclists how to maintain and fix their bikes, and then let them use the clinic tools to make their own repairs.
The group’s volunteers teach, while also working to repair bikes that have been donated. Those bikes are sold to support the group.
The most common problem is a flat tire, Davis said. But stuck gears and similar complaints roll in too.
“A lot of maintenance stuff, because bikes never get maintained,” he said.
Those who can’t afford a bike can earn one by volunteering to rebuild one entire bike. When they’re done, they get a second bike to rebuild for themselves.
“Anybody can come in and earn a bike,” Davis said, adding that people don’t need to have experience. “We’ll take anybody.”
They’re also looking for volunteers to help get the new building up to code. Until they can move in, they’ll continue to hold weekly repair clinics at the Edison Tech Center on Broadway from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays.