Cycling collective

The new Velocipede Bike Project near the Jones Falls bike trail is a shoestring shop where bicycle enthusiasts can can talk shop and repair and restore their two-wheelers


Standing at a workbench, Koala Largess tinkers with a bike wheel. She's trying to fix it, or at least salvage what parts she can. When she's done, she'll toss the usable parts onto one heap and the scraps onto another pile in the adjacent storage room.

Hopefully, the wheel will become part of a working bike in the near future -- one that will be sold for a modest profit to help pay the rent.

Largess and about a dozen others form a bike collective that opened a shop last week on Lanvale Street near the Charles Theatre. Called the Velocipede Bike Project, this collective runs on volunteers and donations and aims to help people fix their own cycles and restore used ones for sale.

Largess and the other members of the collective share a passion for cycling they want to spread through Velocipede.

"You can just get on your bike and go and forget everything else around you," Largess said. "It's just an easier way to live than having to drive a car and be worried about gas and parking and all that stuff. And it's sustainable."

This group of "bike nuts" formed about a year ago, according to member Andrew Byrne. Recently, they attended a city meeting to discuss the Bicycle Master Plan, where they met landlord Mike Shecter. Shecter learned about the collective's hope to open a bike shop and offered them space on Lanvale Street.

"I think it's a really great idea," Shecter said. "I think it could be the kind of thing that even grows into more people commuting. Like, going to the train station on a bicycle, even riding a bicycle from their homes, coming over, going to the Charles Theatre, maybe dinner and riding a bicycle back. It seems like a unique opportunity -- a pretty neat amenity for Baltimore."

The collective jumped at the offer and started moving into the new space about a month ago. The building is near a stretch of the Jones Falls bike trail, and Byrne hopes bikers will stop in for repairs before or after a day of riding it.

Since the shop runs on volunteers and opened only last week, permanent hours have not been set. Once the collective has fleshed out schedules, they will add them to the Web site, Byrne said.

As of last week, the shop's interior and exterior were still mostly bare. A green futon sat in one corner of the front room, and a half dozen heaps of bikes and parts lined the walls of the back room. Handmade paper signs duct-taped to the walls above the heaps helped organize things a bit. They read: "Almost there," "Old and crusty but we still want 'em to work," "Usable frames," "Scraps" and "Scrap me please."

About 30 bikes were ready to ride, and roughly 100 more were in various stages of readiness. Most of them will go for less than $100, Byrne said. The Velocipede crew will also teach people how to fix their own bikes and hopes to host children's cycling workshops in the future, Byrne said.

Last week, Byrne was satisfied with Velocipede's new home.

"This is a good beginning," Byrne said.

The Velocipede Bike Project is at 4 W. Lanvale St. For hours and more information, go to

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