An international conference for community bicycle projects and lovers of the bike life is coming to Detroit this fall.
The gathering, Bike! Bike!, will be held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 at various locations around the city. It's being hosted by Back Alley Bikes, a local bicycle nonprofit, and the Hub of Detroit, a related retail and cycle repair shop that helps fund BAB's programming.
The four-day event will offer a variety of workshops, rides and evening events for out-of-town visitors and local folks interested in learning more about the community bike scene.
Community bike projects—sometimes referred to as bike co-oops, collectives or kitchens— are typically nonprofit shops, spaces or programs aimed at teaching skills and sharing resources. They tend to operate through collective decision-making and can take on a variety of forms, everything from a community-run open workspace with trained volunteers , like Plan B in New Orleans, to a group with staff but no space that travels around to different local shops teaching skills, like Grease Rag in Minneapolis.
The sponsors of this year's Bike!Bike! in Detroit are planning for around 300 attendees—some coming from as far away as South Africa, Australia and Japan—representing about 50 different community bike projects.
"[People] come to this conference...to skill share, to network [and] to talk about common problems," Bike!Bike! organizer and BAB collective member Heather Nugen tells Mode Shift. "It ends up being essentially an industry fair, but it's also a way for people to get involved or learn more about starting their own projects."
Although this year's workshops are still being determined, past topics have included topics like: rebuilding three-speed hubs, implementing work trade programs and surviving long-distance bike trips, as well as more abstract issues like biking and gentrification. Organizers will also be hosting a variety of recreational activities including a dance party and movie night at local Detroit spots like the Tangent Gallery and the Trumbullplex.
In addition to rides during the event itself, there is also a tentative plan to embark on long-distance group ride from Detroit to Port Huron and back after the convention comes to a close.
Bike!Bike! got its start in New Orleans in 2004 and takes place in a different city every year. Detroit narrowly won over Winnipeg, Canada to host this year's event during a vote that was taken at last year's gathering in Guadalajara Mexico. Nugen says Bike!Bike! participants were curious to learn more about what's happening bike-wise in a place that's become so famous for its automotive history.
"People have been hearing a lot of the buzz going out [and] are really interested in what the bike scene is in terms of what is going on," she says. "Especially in the context of: 'This used to be the Motor City. Now all these cars are gone, so what is that like?'"
Organizers hope the event will help bring together Detroit's growing bike scene, which includes mass rides like Slow Roll, bike projects like SW Rides and clubs like GMOB (Grown Men on Bikes) and the East Side Riders.
Bike!Bike! is open to anyone interested in attending. Although no one will be turned away, attendees are asked to make a suggested donation of between $25-$100. Those interested in participating can register online at the Bike!Bike! website. Register for Bike!Bike! here
TAKE ACTION: Back Alley Bikes and The Hub are currently facing financial challenges. Support them by attending their programs and/or contributing to their crowdfunding campaign which aims to help keep BAB open and free for youth.