|FreeRide: Montpelier’s Bike Co-op|
FreeRide: Montpelier’s Bike Co-op
by Per Tonn
A photo of the interior of FreeRide shows some of the frames and parts available to those who come to shop or learn how to repair a bike. (Photo courtesy of Per Tonn)
Tucked away in a nook on Barre Street is one of Montpelier's hidden treasure chests. This invaluable place is FreeRide, a homegrown bicycle collective open this winter on Tuesdays 6-8pm and on Fridays 4-6pm or by appointment. Located next to Fisher Auto Parts on 89 Barre Street, the upstairs of FreeRide includes a showroom for complete bicycles and new bicycle parts (such as fenders, lights, helmets, and bells), and the downstairs (entrance at the back of the building) accommodates the mechanics’ area with a vast array of used bicycles, parts, and tools. People can donate bikes of any condition. These will either be rebuilt, or salvaged from still functioning parts. No matter if you are looking for a complete bike ready to go, for parts, or if you simply enjoy learning how to work on a bike in order to be able to fix it on your own next time, you can count on being guided by one of the patient and generous volunteers/bike mechanics: Matt, Colin, Madeline, Per or Michael.
How else can you plug into this unique hub of bike transport? As a fully volunteer-run organization, FreeRide counts on membership support and donations. A suggested donation of $5/hour or $30/year is what we believe to be fair for shop time. Larger donations are encouraged when possible, and nobody is ever turned away for lack of funds. Come by during winter hours (listed above) or go to www.freeridemontpelier.org to make an appointment, sign up for the email list, become a member, use the shop to fix your bike and leave a donation, volunteer and learn or apply bicycle mechanical skills, and spread the word to friends and family. We always appreciate donated bikes, in any condition – just drop them off in the bike rack out front.
The Better World Club offers bicycle-only and car-and-bike membership, including insurance and free roadside assistance. Better World Club offers VBPC members a 10% discount on new membership. The VBPC receives a donation for every new sign-up.