Bike recycling bin!

Bike recycling bin!

Fixing some breaks on an abandoned bike

Fixing some breaks on an abandoned bike

In search of the perfect wheel...

In search of the perfect wheel...

Taking a break from bike maintenance.

Taking a break from bike maintenance.

Christian, handing down some wheels from the loft of bike parts.

Christian, handing down some wheels from the loft of bike parts.

On Wednesday evenings around 6:00pm if you happen to be around 327 West 36th street between 8th and 9th Avenues stop by the “Bike Rescue Warehouse.” In it you will find Christian, an energetic, self-proclaimed Freegan with a passion for bike riding and dumpster diving, along with his friendly and passionate bike maintenance enthusiast friends all willing and ready to help you make a recycled bike.

Time consuming? Not really. Rewarding? Completely!

Not only did these bike making fanatics make me feel totally at home with the fact that I don’t know s**t about bike repair; but they were patient and willing to help me scrounge through their carefully selected, incredible stash of abandoned bike parts and teach me how to put together brakes, replace chains, handlebars, and pump up tires with proper form. And before I left, they even sent me off with a helmet!

The workshop began when Christian Gutierrez who started riding a year ago after getting rid of his car and adopting a more non-consuming, “freegan,” lifestyle, decided that he wanted to help others stop wasting and start biking. Freeganism, to Christian, is an important element of the Bike Repair Workshop, and of course, the reason that he so generously provides a space for free bike making.

“Bicycles are discarded and abandoned on the sides of streets, and a lot of times parts of them are still working,” Christian explained, “we take any bike we can find so that it doesn’t end up in a landfill.” The unsalvageable parts of the bikes are then sent off to a metal recycling plant so that the entire bike, which was trash to one person, can now be re-used.

The idea of re-using “waste,” like abandoned bike parts, is the key element to living a “freegan” lifestyle. Derived from the words "free" and "vegan,” freegans are people who believe in living “sustain-ably, ethically, and happily by recovering and using the discards of an over-consumptive and wasteful culture.” This is an alternative to supporting corporations who continue to fund “ecological destruction, animal abuse, and human rights violations” with the very same dollars we used to buy their products.

Fundamentally, the Bike Workshop completely supports these ideals, however, the Workshop’s main objective is bikes; the freegan part is optional. So, if you are not a freegan (like me), don’t let that sway you from stopping by. In fact some of the bike repair mechanics are not totally freegan themselves. The attitude seemed to be, “do what you can,” and making “dead” bikes come “alive” is an incredibly satisfying start.