We had a blast hosting an all-ages South Seattle community ride on Sunday, August 28th! We had families with tandems, trailers, and cargo bikes. Dozens of Bike Works volunteers, current and former staff, and supporters rolled through. We even had the good fortune to cross-over with Northstar Cycling at Chuck’s Hop Shop Seward Park for an end of ride celebration.
20 years ago, when cars were still considered luxury goods, almost everyone in Shanghai owned a bike, and most of them cycled everyday. That included working-age people cycling for work, elders cycling for grocery shopping, and kids cycling with their parents to school. Most kids did not have their own bikes until middle school, because for most families, bikes were still relatively expensive, and letting kids cycle on streets with other vehicles was not considered safe. Thus, kids cycling with their parents basically means kids sitting at the back or front of their parents’ bikes. I did this until I got my first bike at 14 years old. Every time when I was “cycling” with my father, I felt strongly bonded with him, physically and emotionally.
This is not only for me—cycling with parents is a shared memory of many people at my age (born in 80s). What we have in common is not only cycling but also the melancholia and yearning for our parents, who are growing old, and our childhood, which is fading away.
A Cantonese song by Eason Chan opened the gate to such feeling beautifully:
It’s hard to say goodbye. I want to hold you tight.
We have such a long life, which seems like a wild land.
If a kid could hold dad’s back, who wants to get off the bike?
It’s hard to say goodbye. We always have such kind of feeling.
This is our life, and there is no way to deny.
But no matter how cruel the world is,
when I thought about the bike,
I can still borrow the happiness from the good old days.
While I am crying over my childhood, parents were considered as the most significant barrier against every Asian kid’s freedom. Like other kids, I was so eager to have my own bike, so that I could go anywhere I wanted. Indeed, even with fantastic public transportation, a bike still greatly enhances people’s mobility in a city like Shanghai. Therefore, when I got a bike, I started to go wild. I felt I had finally been released. My own bike allowed me to go everywhere that I wanted but couldn’t previously—street foods and arcades. Interestingly, although I was released from my parents’ care on the bike, I unintentionally inherited the meaning of a bike—the bond between the rider and the passenger—and I transferred the bond with my parents to my girlfriends. And that is also an iconic image of love in China: while we can not afford a car, with a bike, we can still go everywhere. This was the greatest freedom in my mind.
To many Chinese at my age or older, bike is our only affordable substitute for a vehicle. Still, it drastically enhances our mobility in a city, especially in large cities such as Shanghai and Hong-Kong. With a bike, the city becomes smaller, and we can go anywhere we want with our families and loved ones, on which we build beautiful memories and unforgettable feelings. Nowadays, bike is no longer the first choice for transportation—in Shanghai, more than half of the total households own at least one car now. Recently, biking is becoming a mid-class lifestyle, which is quite similar to the fact in the U.S. However, the low-income population still relies on bikes heavily because of its convenience, efficiency, and affordability. I wish we can keep affordable bikes in the market, because that is not only an option of commuting, but also two cycles carrying family, freedom, and love for everyone to everywhere.
This reflection is from a community member, May. May originally rode her bike in Southeast China (Canton Province), and now rides with her family in Seattle. The month of May also happens to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! We hope you enjoy this story and the photos in honor of May’s family and heritage, and for all of our Asian & Pacific Islander friends, family, and neighbors. All photos courtesy of May.
Biking is so much fun to me. I always feel as free as the wind when I am riding a bike. I can also enjoy viewing the different sceneries along my ride. Biking is an effective way for me to relieve stress from work after sitting for hours in front of a computer. It is also such a good exercise that could keep me healthy and fit.
I hadn’t been biking for many years after I moved to Seattle back in 2003 since I did not know much about biking here. The roads and safety seemed to be a big challenge to me, and I felt a little bit scared. Most importantly, I did not find a group of people who could share the same interest in biking. With the addition of three young kids, my life has become so busy that I could hardly find the time or energy for my own hobbies or interests. In recent years, I have come to know more about Bike Works through their programs and activities they have been offering or hosting.
All my three kids, two teens and a 10-year-old girl, have received a free bike each from Bike Works when they were in preschool at the REWA childcare center. They were so excited after they got their own bikes and would like to keep biking and biking without a stop in our neighborhood park. My two teenage boys used to love biking so much and they would bike every day when they were younger, but they do not bike much in recent years since they have been engaged with other fun activities. I feel that they are a little more reluctant to bike with mom nowadays since they are two teenagers trying their best to be themselves now. Bike Works had the mobile repair van located in our New Holly neighborhood last year and the helpful mechanic had kindly helped my boys fix the problems of their bikes. We are so grateful to Bike Works for its being available in our neighborhood!
Compared to my kids, I was not so lucky as they are in regard to having the kid’s bike available for me to use when I was in elementary school. I learned how to bike together with my big brother on my own (basically self-taught) when I was about in 5th grade. Back then we did not have any kid’s bike to use, and we had to borrow my dad’s adult bike which was my family’s only bike. My legs were way too short, and I had to make full use of the triangle that the bike had. When I was in middle school, our family finally had a second bike that was available for me and brother to use. As I grew older, I rode the bike to help carry clean water home for cooking, to commute to the fields (plot assigned to each family in the rural area to grow rice and vegetables) to help my parents grow and harvest vegetables, and to buy groceries from the market. It was not until I graduated from university and started working that I finally had my own bike. Just like my kids, I biked almost every day after work since I had my own bike. It helped a lot in relieving the stress from work. The most memorable bike ride is the one I had together with my colleague when we traveled to Yunnan Province in Southwest China. We each rented a bike and rode the bike to see the amazing field of rapeseed flowers and a historical town.
As my kids are growing bigger, it is time to pick up my biking journey again after pressing the pause button for so many years and create new biking chapters. Currently, I do not have my own bike and have been using one of my son’s bikes even though it is a little bit too small for me. I biked in Seward Park together with my daughter and younger son often when the weather was fine last year. My daughter and I once took the link light rail to UW Station and then biked all the way back to Seward Park. Unfortunately, the small bike I have been using got stolen recently when I was standing on top of a small hill waiting for my daughter’s school bus to arrive while the bike was parked at the foot of the hill. I definitely need to get another bike as soon as possible in order to get myself back to the track of cycling again. I would like to get more involved with Bike Works in the future because the organization has such an amazing group of people ready and willing to help people who has interest or needs in biking.
May’s daughter (left) and Bike Works Recycle & Reuse Operations Manager Allie (right) high-fiving after a community ride in November 2021 in honor of Marshall “Major” Taylor.
An alleycat is a bike race modeled after a day in the life of a bike messenger; the route is kept secret until the day of, and take place on city streets amongst traffic. There is no set route, and it is up to the rider to navigate their own path from checkpoint to checkpoint. In addition to the urban asphalt, the “Tour de Fleurs” featured numerous dirt/gravel options to increase stoke and help riders connect to the great provider of flowers and life, Mother Earth.
Video edit by Sean Flood
We recognize that all sorts of people of varying abilities ride bicycles. The one thing we all have in common is that we find cycling fun. So we planned the ride to celebrate and encourage fun with a wide array of jovial checkpoints and challenges based on non-bike related talent and luck. About 100 riders participated and together we raised over $1,300 to support Nurturing Roots, a Black woman owned farming community program in Beacon Hill. Nurturing Roots came through with their vegan mac ‘n cheese and bike-powered smoothies! Food was also provided from our supporters at Ezell’s Famous Chicken and Pagliacci Pizza and REI brought a DIY sunglasses station!
Inside every [person] Lives the seed of a flower If [they] look within [they] find beauty and power Ring all the bells, sing and tell the people everywhere that the flower has come Light up the sky with your prayers of gladness and rejoice for the darkness is gone Throw off your fears let your heart beat freely at the sign that a new time is born
On Thursday, March 24th, 2022, Bike Works Executive Director Ed Ewing facilitated a panel of activists and cyclists to discuss different approaches to promoting race & gender equity in cycling and beyond. Panelists Edwin Lindo (Northstar Cycling Club & Estelita’s Library), Roxanne Robles (Friends on Bikes, Feels on Wheels, The Bikery, and Outdoors for All), Lee Lambert (Cascade Bicycle Club), and Ella Dorband (Breakfast Racing Team) shared their experiences as organizers and advocates, and how they work to make different types of cycling more inclusive including racing, touring, bikepacking, adventure riding, and community riding. Check out the recording of the event below.
Meet the Speakers
Ed Ewing: Ed has 31+ years of marketing, project development, strategic planning, and nonprofit leadership experience. He co-founded the Major Taylor Project, a youth cycling initiative focused on creating opportunities for Black and Brown youth in diverse and underserved communities. Ed has cycled competitively since 1983, and still actively races today. He is also a founding member of the Rainier Riders, a cycling club led by Black and Brown riders.
Roxanne Robles: Roxy is a cyclist, urban planner, sewist, and Filipinx food enthusiast living on the ancestral lands of the Duwamish (Seattle, Washington). She started bike touring in 2017 after realizing that bike touring was not that different than hauling 30 pounds of groceries up and down Seattle hills. She organizes with Friends on Bikes, and volunteers with The Bikery & Outdoors for All. Roxy is passionate about supporting new cyclists and spreading her love of bikes and bike touring, and she uses her Capricorn powers for good by planning summer bike trips months in advance. She thinks tarot cards are an essential item on any packing list, and loves to talk about feelings. Her book, An Introduction to Bike Touring will help you get started on your cycling journey!
Ella Dorband – Ella Dorband is, along with founder Mackenna Lees, co-captain of Breakfast Racing Team, a multi-discipline team of 49 WTFNB racers in the Seattle-ish area. She currently races cyclocross, cross country mountain bike, and track. Previously, she was a Lead and then Board Member at The Bikery. In 2023 she and her partner hope to direct their first race, but basically everything about this is TBD. Outside of the bike world, she is a technical project manager and art enthusiast.
Edwin Lindo: Edwin has embarked on the journey to ask and explore the hard questions of Race & Racism within the institutions of Medicine and Law. As faculty at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Edwin has developed curriculum and teaches on Critical Race Theory and Medicine; and is also the Assistant Dean for Social and Health Justice within the Office of Healthcare. His research and scholarship has focused on the history of racialized medicine, race & racism within medicine, social justice and social movements, and decolonized pedagogies for critical education.
Estell (his partner and wife) and Edwin founded and curated Estelita’s Library, a Social Justice Community Library & Bookstore dedicated to the goal of bringing truth and justice to communities through decentralized knowledge and decolonized spaces. Their books cover topics of justice, liberation, identity, race & racism, economic and political theory, and anything else that guides us in understanding our world through a critical lens. You can find them at EstelitasLibrary.com. Estelita’s Library is named after their 4 year old, Estella.
Edwin is also the co-founder of North Star Cycling, the largest BIPOC cycling club on the West Coast — our goal is to bring melanated people and a conscious of justice to cycling. We have built community through Sunday Service rides and Wednesday night rides. Our model is special in that we are hear to provide unconditional embrace of minoritized folks, no matter where they are: never riding a bike to racing in Cat 1 crits. For those that are new, we have a fleet of bikes that folks can borrow for the rides and a clubhouse to encourage community building. In just over 2 years, we have engaged with over 300 folks in rides, community events, and friendships. We’re excited for what the future holds.
Lee Lambert: Lee Lambert is seven months into service as the Executive Director of the Cascade Bicycle Club/Washington Bikes. He joined Cascade after working 15 years in the nonprofit sector advocating for equity in Washington state’s education system. Born and raised in Tacoma, throughout his life, he used a bike for basic transportation, recreation and fitness. Lee sees his role at Cascade as a perfect partnership between his avocation and vocation. He is passionate about making biking accessible for all and a viable alternative to driving a car by ensuring that we have a simple, safe and connected system of bike infrastructure in Washington State. Lee and his wife have two children and enjoy many outdoor activities in their free time. He is also a proud alumni of WSU and Seattle University.
Aaron Yoon, Bike Works Stewardship Manager, February 2022
In the mid 90s I worked on a school tile art project as a young student at North City Elementary school in Shoreline. My creation at the time featured two hands shaking. One black, one white. I’m not sure if I should get any creativity points, but more importantly, this project was inspired by Edwin Pratt, one of Seattle’s prominent civil rights leaders in the 60s who moved with his family to a near all-white Shoreline in 1959.
Living in Cap Hill and the CD most of my life, I’ve seen the parks and dedications for Edwin Pratt. Although he has been in my mind here and there, I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally followed up with the leader and his legacy since that simple tile art I worked on.
This Black History Month, I wanted to reflect on Edwin’s work with a Sunday afternoon bicycle journey from my apartment in Columbia City back to the Central District, where Pratt was on the frontlines in the fight against redlining and housing discrimination in Seattle.
As Edwin Pratt was a champion in the fight for fair housing practices, I’m reminded that although practices such as redlining and the disgusting racial restrictive covenants in so many King County neighborhoods may have ended, it’s hard not to see the connection and impact so visible today as I ride.
The sun was out and I was in a reflective mode, so I thought I’d listen to some of my favorite local hip-hop on the way. As I ride up through Judkins Park and roll past the Franz bakery outlet, Draze’s “The Hood Ain’t the Same” (2014) is playing and I’m feeling it.
“The blocks went naked and the gentrification came,
Garfield, Franklin, rivalries ain’t even the same,
Mark my words, it’s gonna be white boys all on the team,
I don’t reminisce when I drive through this hood I feel pain,
I ain’t proud of these new developments I feel shame…
I guess Kent is the new South End, and the South End is the CD,
and CD is just a thing of the past…
Used to own our homes, now we’re all renters,
Got folks moving south like birds for the winter,
They asked momma to sell our home she said ‘no’,
But then we had to shake when the property taxes rose”
I’m enjoying the views dropping down west on Yesler as the Olympics are out and the iconic Smith Tower is straight ahead. As I pass by the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute I realize that I have yet to attend any event in the space. I’m definitely checking the schedule now and I’ll be back.
At the bottom of the hill at the corner 14th & Yesler I roll up at the Urban League’s headquarters located at the historic St. George building built in 1910. Edwin Pratt served as the Executive Director of the Urban League during the 1960’s and housing justice continues to be a core value in their mission today. The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) has a vision for equity for all and working towards self-sufficiency in all aspects of life. The five areas of focus are advocacy & civic engagement, education, housing, public health, and workforce development.
As the Central District and housing are on my mind, ULMS promotes housing justice through Eviction Prevention, Homeownership services, Financial Empowerment classes, Homeless outreach, and the Urban League Village. I particularly enjoyed looking up the ULMS schedule and seeing such a rich variety of intriguing events such as a youth mental health workshop, job readiness training and BIPOC job fairs, and especially the Future Voters Talent Show. It’s cool to see the Homebuyer Education Classes & Credit Counseling Workshops being offered every month as it encourages me to take some classes too.
It’s rare to find organizations with such a deep and authentic history in Seattle. Thank you Urban League for your work.
I reach Union, take a right, and get some work in climbing up and over down to 23rd, perhaps the original Ground Zero of gentrification in Seattle. I play only one track on the way there.
Again, Draze speaks to me, this time through Irony On 23rd (2016):
“The greed, the lust, insatiable appetite,
The conscience ear, but the inability to sacrifice…
Are we so gone we can’t practice a little discretion?
There’s nothing to think about, this is not okay,
What the hell are these politicians thinking anyway,
We pay taxes too, 23rd’s all tore up,
Then our businesses fail, I guess the hood is for sale,
The enemy is faceless, and it’s the system that rapes us,
Empty bike lanes, guess the hood needed a facelift…
We was redlining, but now we blackballed out,
So they can sell green, had to paint the flag on the crosswalk for ourself…
How many brothers went to jail on this corner for moving dime bags?
In a week he doing what, a couple hundred grand?…
Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”
Discrimination then forced Blacks in, discrimination now forces Blacks out. The enemy may be faceless, but the victims, the stories, and the pain is real.
On my back to the South End I roll past Jimi Hendrix Park and the Northwest African American Museum. I see Black, Brown, and Asian youth playing touch football and I’m feeling more inspired. It’s time for a strong ride back and to turn up my tunes a notch.
For my final tracks, I put on my favorite local hip-hop album, “From Slaveships to Spaceships”, released on Juneteenth 2009 by South Seattle MC, Khingz. I bop my head to the beat and listen to the personal stories of perseverance I hear on Prodigal & the title track, From Slaveships to Spaceships. I’m feeling it and I’ll be ready to put in the work on Monday.
Thank you, Edwin Pratt, for your work, your legacy, and providing the inspiration to ride and reflect.
The last year and a half (and counting) has been a difficult time for everybody. Essential workers, small business owners, working parents, and members of marginalized communities have been disproportionately impacted by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have adapted our policies and operations numerous times to remain aligned with King County Public Health recommendations while continuing to provide services to our customers and program participants.
Below is an update about our operations as of February 2022. Please also check ourweb calendar regularly to find variations in scheduling as well as occasional outdoor and virtual engagement opportunities.
Our full-service Bike Shop in Columbia City is open to customers. No appointments required and test rides are now available. Shopping is available 24/7 on our web store. The shop is open 6 days a week, closed Wednesdays.
The warehouse is open to customers from 1 – 4 PM on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month. Max 8 shoppers at a time, purchase limits, first come first serve. Potential time limits depending on the line.
Please drop off bike donations at the warehouse weekdays from 11 AM – 5 PM. Contact us if you are unable to come during this time. Rapha Seattle is also hosting an ongoing bike drive on our behalf – donate your bike/parts/accessories at their Capitol Hill clubhouse and enjoy 10% off your purchase plus a free coffee!
Open shop is back 2nd & 4th Saturdays from 1 – 5 PM. Work on your own bike in a supportive community space with the support of a professional mechanic. Pay what you can + parts, suggested cost of $10-20 per hour depending on the level of staff assistance required.
Thank you for your patience and flexibility. If you are able to make a financial contribution, your support enables us to continue to provide a source of transportation, recreation, and inspiration to all!
At Bike Works, we unequivocally condemn racism and white supremacy, in all their interpersonal and institutional forms. We are disturbed by the surge in violence directed at Asians and people of Asian descent. Anti-Asian racism is not new in this country. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to Japanese internment camps during World War II, to the deadly hate crimes perpetrated in Atlanta against Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Yong Ae Yue, Suncha Kim, Daoyou Feng, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels, Asian communities have endured racism, sexism, and violence in the United States as long as they’ve been in the country. There has been a tragic increase in this type of hatred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on racist and xenophobic lies about the spread of the virus.
The need to join community leaders and organizers to support Asian American communities and combat anti-Asian hate is urgent. Some of the organizations that do this work in Seattle are Kandelia (formerly the Vietnamese Friendship Association), API Chaya, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, and many others. Launch suggests this list of Asian and Pacific Islander organizations and businesses to support, as well as other resources in their statement of solidarity. We encourage support of these efforts through financial gifts, volunteerism, and event and rally support.
Seattle Times social justice columnist & assistant managing editor, Naomi Ishisaka, wrote that “Asian Americans may be too-often invisible, but we are a crucial part of the American story. Our history and experiences should be valued and taught. Anything less contributes to the dehumanization and perpetual foreigner status that leads to the kind of tragedy we saw last week in Georgia.” To learn more about Asian-American history, in Seattle and elsewhere, check out this this valuable reading list.
At Bike Works, we believe the bicycle can be a tool for equity and freedom. But this cannot be achieved unless communities impacted by racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and any other form of institutional oppression are centered and uplifted for our collective liberation. We all have work to do to make this liberation a reality. We ask that all members of our community hold us accountable to these goals by becoming involved, asking tough questions, and connecting us with other leaders doing this work for opportunities to partner and collaborate. Systemic racism doesn’t hurt us all equally, but it does hurt us all.
I am writing to tell you about a new adventure I am going to embark on and upcoming transitions at Bike Works. I have accepted the Executive Director position at Social Venture Partners MN. After nearly 10 years at Bike Works, I will return to Minneapolis where my family is, to work with community-minded philanthropists providing grants and support to youth-serving organizations to build capacity and impact.
I feel so blessed to have been here at Bike Works for all these years working with amazing staff, board, supporters, volunteers, and community partners. We have accomplished so much together. This was simultaneously a difficult and easy decision for me. It is difficult because it is hard to leave such a great organization, with social justice-driven staff, engaged board members, and supporters that are dedicated to doing great work in the community. It is easy because I know Bike Works is poised to do even more wonderful things in the future. We have passed our racial equity-focused strategic plan for 2021 – 2025, which we will share with our community soon. And despite the challenges of this year, Bike Works has thrived in 2020, which is an accomplishment we can all be proud of. I have learned a lot in my time in this role. I have immense gratitude for being given a chance to grow as a leader, and to help expand the capacity of our organization.
FROM MARCOS FRANCO, BOARD CHAIR
I want to wholeheartedly congratulate Deb for 10 years of dedication, service, and leadership to Bike Works as well as the South Seattle community. There is no doubt that the work she has done has had an impact on countless lives and furthered the Bike Works vision. Certainly, SVP Minnesota has acquired an asset—her knowledge, leadership, and warmth will be missed.
Deb, we wish you the best of luck! It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the entire Executive Committee, to appoint Ed Ewing as the Interim Executive Director of Bike Works as Deb departs. Ed’s commitment to social justice, strategic thinking, and passion for the organization have shined through his work as Deputy Director. He has shown he holds himself to the highest standards through his work on the Bike Works Racial Equity Commitment Statement and the 2021-2015 Strategic Plan over the last three months.
I am confident with Ed at the helm, a brilliant staff behind him, a dedicated board, and a passionate network of supporters, we are heading in the right direction. Deb’s last day will be January 5th, and we will finalize Ed’s transition from Interim Executive Director to Executive Director by the end of that month. I am looking forward to all the great work we’ll do together in the coming year.
FROM ED EWING, DEPUTY DIRECTOR
I am very excited and honored to be appointed Interim Executive Director of Bike Works! I want to thank Deb Salls, the Bike Works staff, the Board of Directors, and our committed supporters and community members for your confidence in my leadership and abilities. My career, my work in diverse communities, and my tenure in the cycling community, has prepared me for this role. It is an extreme pleasure to be working for an organization so deeply committed to racial equity, and with a talented staff who share a passion for building resilient communities. I will meet challenges with an innovative, authentic, visionary, and collaborative approach to inspire team members and community partners. I believe in strong community partnerships, building positive, authentic relationships, and leading with a collective voice. I feel blessed to be working for such an amazing organization.
At Bike Works, we believe that bicycles help build resilient communities. But we also understand that bicycles work best in tandem with culturally relevant services, arts, family support, anti-racism, environmental stewardship, housing advocacy, food security, and gender justice. We also believe that when organizations are led by the folks directly affected by the issues they address, and have internal leadership development to empower their young people, communities can really thrive and begin to breakdown systems of oppression.
Below is a list of non-profit organizations that Bike Works staff are supporting. Some are specifically addressing COVID-19 relief. Many serve and are led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. All are providing vital services for connection, expression, and relief during these difficult times.
Real Rent calls on people who live and work in Seattle to make rent payments to the Duwamish Tribe. Though the city named for the Duwamish leader Chief Seattle thrives, the Tribe has yet to be justly compensated for their land, resources, and livelihood.
GotGreen builds community power by waging visionary campaigns at the intersection of racial, economic, gender and climate justice that incite community participation (via robust base-building), provides a pipeline of leadership development for directly impacted communities, and engages in direct action.
El Centro de la Raza (The Center for People of All Races) aims to unify all racial and economic sectors; to organize, empower, and defend the basic human rights of our most vulnerable and marginalized populations; and to bring critical consciousness, justice, dignity, and equity to all the peoples of the world.