Local News

Saturday, Nov 16 2013 05:26 PM

'Bike kitchen' aims to build community

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Saturday was the grand opening, ribbon cutting and barbecue at the Bike Arvin Bike Kitchen on Bear Mountain Boulevard. The new facility will offer inexpensive repair and tune-ups, allowing people to use tools for free or even buy an inexpensive bike, all in the name of promoting the use of bicycles.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    There was a flurry of activity in the new Bike Arvin Bike Kitchen on Saturday during its grand opening on Bear Mountain Boulevard. Bike Bakersfield has expanded to Arvin and had a ribbon cutting ceremony and barbecue Saturday, all in them name of promoting cycling in Kern County.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

There's more to the new Bike Arvin shop on Bear Mountain Boulevard than just working on bicycles.

The bigger idea, according to the head of the nonprofit behind the "bike kitchen," is to engage local youth in improving their community.

Not that encouraging people to ride bicycles isn't a worthy goal in its own right. But if done correctly, that can lead to something even more valuable, said Jason Cater, executive director of Bike Bakersfield, the 8-year-old nonprofit that this month expanded to Arvin.

"We believe we can get high school kids activated," he said.

"Biking is a way to (get) the youth involved in creating a better quality of life for Arvin."

First things first. The 900-square-foot space opened a week and a half ago at 1241 Bear Mountain Blvd., Suite E, and it's only starting to draw a clientele.

As a bike kitchen, it sells two-wheelers and offers repair services. The emphasis, though, is on teaching people to do the work themselves, using the shop's tools and bike stands for free -- much like the way things go at the nonprofit's Bakersfield location.

"They're hands-on," Cater said of the two locations.

The shop was paid for by a two-year, $50,000 grant from The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities Initiative.

On Saturday, Bike Arvin got quite a publicity bump. Local dignitaries showed up for a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony. Among the participants was Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield; Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez; Andrae Gonzalez, trustee for the Bakersfield City School District; and a number of Arvin city and school officials.

Next up: Scheduling group rides and teaching bicycle safety classes -- all while building relationships within the community, Cater said.

He expects to see regulars start hanging out at the shop soon, followed gradually by a large group of young people spreading word about the benefits of bicycling and community involvement.

The location is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The shop is closed Sundays and Mondays.

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