Constructing Bikes For All | RVA Magazine
Biking in Richmond represents an alluring group, a resourceful strategy to get round, and a strategy to battle for social justice. For Mati McCann and Emma Troy, serving to different bikers is one strategy to help native communities and take part within the Black Lives Matter motion.
When the on a regular basis actuality of the coronavirus pandemic set in over the spring and summer time, many individuals took to the outside to train, escape, and — after Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd in late Might and Black Lives Matter protests sprung up worldwide — arrange for justice. Nationally, bike outlets have seen the evidence that extra individuals are shopping for bikes, in search of elements, and biking on a day by day or weekly foundation. Richmond bike mechanics Emma Troy and Mati McCann have seen the identical enthusiasm within the Richmond biking group — and need to improve accessibility to the exercise.
McCann, a mechanic and volunteer for Richmond-based bicycle cooperative Rag & Bones, has been constructing bikes with recycled elements for the co-op, in addition to for youths in her neighborhood who don’t have entry to new bikes. Now, McCann and Troy, a bicycle mechanic for Carytown Bicycle Co., have arrange a GoFundMe to assist with financing the builds and shopping for high-quality locks. They’ve been amassing donations all through August, and their marketing campaign stays open. Cash has lengthy been a problem within the biking group — McCann mentioned her and Troy’s efforts started as a strategy to improve entry amongst individuals who could really feel excluded from the game, lengthy dominated by extra prosperous white male cyclists.
“It actually took off from there, to be a motorbike construct for anybody who was not a white cis man,” McCann mentioned. “That’s the most prevalent individual within the bike group, and most bike mechanics are white cis males. They only have extra entry, as a result of they’re represented and given these alternatives.”
McCann makes use of a sliding pay scale for her builds. She would possibly promote a motorbike for $80 or $100, or a bit extra if the construct is intricate — nonetheless a lot decrease than any bike store would cost. If the patron can afford to cowl the price of the elements, or make a small donation to Rag & Bones, that helps to maintain the mission going. Bikes are free for youths.
“Center class households, extra rich households can afford to supply these alternatives for his or her kids,” McCann mentioned. “In america, it’s because of systemic racism that sure households have entry to miscellaneous revenue and different households don’t.”
Addressing systemic racism and its results on the biking group, in addition to how the biking group can and will take part in social justice initiatives, are points McCann and different schooling and community-oriented cyclists have gravitated in direction of. McCann has lengthy been an advocate for Girls, Trans, and Femme (WTF) individuals who need to get into biking. In pre-pandemic occasions, McCann loved volunteering at Rag & Bones’ open hours for WTF cyclists. This non-intimidating, accepting house might additionally function a means for protesters to get service for his or her bikes and really feel welcome. So when volunteers arrange at Marcus-David Peters Circle on a number of Thursdays for anybody to request repairs, it felt like a logical subsequent step. McCann mentioned the mission, whereas not overrun with cyclists in want, did see attendance from a very good variety of folks.
“Lots of people have been bike protesting,” McCann mentioned. “It was tremendous enjoyable to see all of the bikes out, however clearly bikes want upkeep. It was a easy strategy to assist in any form of capability. I really feel like lots of people at that cut-off date wished to be concerned, to contribute ultimately. That was a ability that me and some different WTF bike mechanics round Richmond had and wished to supply the house.”
Bikes have lengthy been used as essential sources throughout protests. Protesters can use bikes to dam visitors, protect walkers from vehicles, and navigate areas shortly. Past that, McCann mentioned, the group facet of motorbike protesting is evident — however it’s not uncomplicated.
“Richmond has a really sturdy bike presence, so it was very cool to see numerous bikers coming collectively and clearing the roads,” McCann mentioned. “There’s one thing to be mentioned in regards to the privilege that comes with that too — as a result of you possibly can simply flee, whereas protest leaders are being arrested … you possibly can escape. That’s one thing you need to steadiness out, to make an effort to stroll typically … and be there on the bottom with them as effectively.”
As protests and the pandemic proceed, the recognition of biking and discourse inside biking communities doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Whereas the bike builds and lock fundraising efforts are fledgling, efforts to develop entry to bikes have fashioned new bonds for McMann.
“I do know these boys, I do know the people who find themselves receiving the bikes,” McCann mentioned. “There’s an effort to make the bikes actually cool … I’d like to determine some form of lasting relationship. I’ve had a few of the boys specific curiosity in studying easy methods to repair their very own bikes.”
For now, the pandemic has put a pause on most in-person constructing and restore tasks. The tempo is gradual, and the hassle inherently grassroots. But when extra individuals are engaged and excited to hitch the community-driven biking motion, the long run is shiny.
Prime Photograph through Carytown Bicycle Co.