To expand access to bike repair tools and knowledge, the Santa Maria Public Library and Bici Centro have partnered up to launch two pop-up bike clinics each month from March through August.
The "Bike Kitchen" program, which is funded by a $6,000 grant from the California State Library, will provide community members with access to shop-grade bicycle tools along with professional assistance and hands-on learning opportunities during two Fridays each month.
The first bike clinics are scheduled for March 15 and 29, said librarian Joyce Fischer. The program will continue through August, with each clinic occurring from 3 to 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Friday of each month.
On Monday, the Santa Maria Public Library held a kickoff event for the Bike Kitchen program in Shepard Hall prior to a screening of the 2012 film “Premium Rush.”
In November, the Santa Maria Public Library contacted Bici Centro and asked if the nonprofit would help the library set up a regular bike clinic in the event the library secured grant funding, said Ken Dahen of the nonprofit Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, which operates the Bici Centro bike store in Santa Maria.
During each clinic, tools will be available to use and a Bici Centro representative will be present to assist any library patron with minor repair and basic maintenance for things like flat tires or cables adjustments, Dahmen said. Consumables — including tire tubes and brake cables — will also be provided free of charge.
Fischer said the library would use the grant money to purchase bike stands and various other tools needed for the Bike Kitchen program, along with the consumables required for regular bike repair and maintenance.
The clinics will be held right outside the library, along the southern side of the building, she said.
“I think the clinics will be a good addition, especially with the closure of the bike shop [Pedal Power] on Broadway,” he said. “There’s definitely a need for more bike services here in town. We’re super busy right now, so I think the city would definitely benefit having the library co-op being implemented.”
Dahmen said Bici Centro has been roughly 25- to 30-percent busier now than it was at the same point last year.
The clinics are another opportunity to reach out to newer bike riders, noting that the cost of repair at retail shops can be a barrier to those who are new bicyclists or leisure riders, said Dahmen, noting that Bici Centro’s shop operated only during minimal hours as it is a nonprofit and did not want to compete with the bike shops.
The first Bike Kitchen will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. March 15 at the Santa Maria Public Library. Those with questions should contact the library’s information desk at 805-925-0994, ext. 8562.