Project Homeless Connect aggregates medical and social service providers a few times per year to make it easier for people needing these services to get them.
A significant number of homeless and transitional people rely on bicycles for transportation, and they often ride marginally safe bikes, so appending a bike-repair effort on to Homeless Connect is a good idea. I got involved with this last year because a friend organized the bike repair effort and found herself swamped with demand for these services.
This year we were able to apply a lot of lessons learned and it went much better. Upgrades to our set-up this year included getting about 9 mechanics (including 3 from The Hub Bike Co-Op), more parts and supplies (brake pads, cables, housing, inner tubes, tires, etc.), awnings to provide shade, lunch and a much better in-take process. Kudos to Nickel for figuring this all out and making it happen.
Some of the repairs I did today were truly horrifying. Brake pads worn all the way down to the metal bracket, bikes with no working brakes what-so-ever, tires that should have been taken out of service years ago...
In two instances, I just could not make bikes safe to ride and talked to owners about getting a better ride at Bikes for Change or MMRB, but for the most-part, we got these things much safer and ready to ride. I don't have an official count, but I bet we repaired at least 50 bikes today. This is a really under-served area and more volunteer bike repairs would be a good thing in any city.
The Homeless Connect organizers seemed to really appreciate that we were there, too, which is always nice.
Fourth of July Bike Rides in the Twin Cities
3 days ago