Holyoke Urban Bike Shop
HOLYOKE—Samuel Arroyo, 15, of Chicopee always liked to cycle, but over time, his old bike became worn and one of the wheels broke.
Arroyo, a student at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, heard about a program at the Greater Holyoke YMCA: the Holyoke Urban Bike Shop (HUBS), where he learned how to repair bikes and in the process, got a new one of his own.
He also found a community of fellow bike enthusiasts and a place where he could learn about bike mechanics and take weekly group bike rides.
"This is a great place," Arroyo said as he cleaned grease off a bike chain. "It's a good place to get your anger out and chill and have fun with friends and everything."
In 2010, the Holyoke Y teamed up with the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council to open a bike shop at the Lou Parent Youth Center at the Y. At first, the shop offered drop-in hours where people could learn to work on and fix bikes. Liz Budd, Community Wellness Coordinator at the Y, said 80 people showed up in the first three weeks and it became clear there was a lot of interest.
HUBS offers monthly daylong bike repair workshops for adults too that cost $50; scholarships are available for those classes. Experienced bike mechanics at the shop offer tune-ups for people who just want to drop their bike off and not go through the training themselves. HUBS also runs a lengthier and more formal training for people interested in becoming full-fledged bike mechanics. The next session will run next year.
In nice weather, HUBS hosts free community bike rides every Thursday at 6 p.m. Riders of all levels are welcome and depending upon the turnout, may divide into groups for different rides. More experienced riders go for a longer ride of 20 miles or more into Easthampton, Northampton, or South Hadley, while less experienced riders take a jaunt around downtown Holyoke. Some of the rides have specific themes, such as a tour of historical buildings or the local community gardens.
“We draw a lot of people who might not go out for a bike ride on their own and some who can’t even necessarily ride a bike,” said Budd. “We provide people a place to ride in groups, which is a little safer because you are more visible.”
In addition to the donations from Bikes Not Bombs, HUBS also receives bikes from the Holyoke Police Department and local colleges and universities, as well as private donations. The program accepts bikes in every condition; if donated cycles are beyond repair, their parts can be salvaged or they can still be sold for scrap metal to raise money for HUBS. HUBS also gives out bike helmets to both children and adults who don’t have one.
To participate or donate to the program, visit www.holyokeurbanbikeshop.org.