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New Hope: Bike coop to give new lives to old bikes

by Phyllis Tsang

New Hope Bike Coop
New Hope Bike Coop
Sid (in cap) reaching out to the community by fixing bikes
Sid (in cap) reaching out to the community by fixing bikes
New live to old bikes
New live to old bikes
Sid, coordinator of New Hope Bike Coop, test driving a restored bike.
Sid, coordinator of New Hope Bike Coop, test driving a restored bike.

-HAMILTON-  "This is the stage I like the most about fixing bikes,” Sid Slotegraaf, Coordinator of New Hope Bike Co-op and a soft-spoken downhill racer and dirt jumper, said while dusting off a "pre-loved" bicycle, "you don't always know how they would turn out.  It's like giving them new lives again."

New Hope Bike Co-op, a program which focuses on giving back to the community by helping people to fix their own bikes, and providing low cost parts, free use of tools and low cost refurbished bicycles, is the brainchild of Jeff Neven, a cyclist and a father of four who could ride only when kids are put to sleep.

The idea was born in 1997 when Jeff was working with inner city kids in Grand Rapids where he started a bicycle repair club for boys and girls. Upon returning to Canada, he continued to find opportunities and partner with likeminded groups, like Recycle Cycles in Kitchener and MacCycle Co-op at McMaster University to serve communities with his bike repairing skills.  

In the past three years, First Hamilton Christian Reformed Church and its church plant, New Hope Church hosted a couple single-day bike repairing events at East Hamilton and had been well received by their neighborhoods.  The success of these events furthered Jeff’s vision of developing a bike co-op at East Hamilton.  This summer, New Hope Bike Co-op, backed by church donations and a grant from Service Canada’s Summer Job Initiative, finally becomes a reality.

Since its opening in June, the bike co-op has been serving 20-40 people a day in two locations: a bike shop in the Delta East neighborhood which opens Thursdays and Fridays and a stall at Ottawa Street Farmer's Market during Saturday mornings.

The bike shop is in an out-of-business sports bar which was originally an upscale eating establishment in the 40s.  With most of its furniture still intact, the space retrofitted into a bike shop by added workbenches, tools and increasing numbers of donated bikes.

In this purple-ceilinged bike shop with red-leathered booth, people's hands are always covered in black.  According to Sid, "The best way to learn about bikes is to get your hands greasy and work on one."

"The greatest thing about this co-op for me is that people not only get their bikes fixed, but they also bring home a new skill,” he shared.

For some, like Darrell Sanderson, who donated time at the bike shop, walked home with more than a new skill, but a bike with his fingerprints all over it.
"You love being here, don't you?"  Asked Darrell's mom, Janice, who came to pick up her son after work.
The shy teenager smiled and nodded.

The three bike stands in the shop never stand empty.  Whenever a bike is off the stand, another one is up.  Both Sid and Drake White, a faithful volunteer who never misses a day are trying hard to meet the high demands of bicycles and repairs.

"This is our next project,” Sid picked a dusty classic-looking cruiser out of more than 160 donated bikes this time.

Restored bikes are put at the store front awaiting their new owners.  As much as sales are welcomed, they could be heartbreakers for Sid, who has to let them go unwillingly at times.

One time as he watched one of his beloved bikes leaving with a customer, Sid held out his arms like a child whose favorite toy had been taken away from him.

"That’s my bike…"  Those were Sid’s last words to a bike that was no longer his.

Originally a summer program, the Bike co-op will extend its operation throughout winter, running only on Saturdays.  It will return full strength again next summer at the same location (1429 Main St. E.,).

"Are you ready to take part in this restoration project?" Sid looked at me and my clean hands as he mounted another forgotten gem on the stand.


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phyllistsang (phyllis tsang)
Toronto ON
Member since August 2009


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Bike Co-op

Nice article about a great program.  Keep up the good work, Sid, Jeff, and the rest of the gang!

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