Friends Bike Clinic

“There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end.”
-James Naylor’s deathbed testimony

I’ve been a bicyclist since I was a kid. As a middle-schooler I delivered newspapers from my bike. As a teenager I worked as a bike courier in Washington D.C. As a college student I biked from Portland to San Francisco on a three-week journey with my future wife. For me, bicycling is simply the most enjoyable way to travel.

Bicycling is also a way for me to care for the earth and to improve my community. In the last couple of years I’ve experimented with what the mainstream media calls a “car lite” lifestyle. I drive a large electrically-motorized bicycle that can easily carry a passenger and four bags of groceries up the steepest hills in Ithaca. In a typical month I put more miles on this bicycle than I do in the family car. I bike in all weather and in all seasons, and I make trips that are sometimes hundreds of miles long. I’ve found ways to almost completely (and comfortably!) replace our car with a bicycle.

I have a sense that others would like to bike more but don’t know how to get started. I’d like to share my experiences and learn about theirs. I’m setting up a project with Ithaca Monthly Meeting’s Earthcare Committee that I call the “Friends Free Bike Clinic”. Basically I will bring my tools to the meetinghouse deck and invite anyone to come by. We can work on our bikes together and share our knowledge about biking. Repairs could be as simple as a quick tune-up: cleaning a chain, pumping up tires, and adjusting brakes. Or they could be more involved: ordering and installing parts or even ordering whole bikes. In particular I encourage people to add electric motors to their bikes. I feel that an electric motor is a necessity for utility biking in Ithaca.

I plan to hold the bike clinic on fourth Sundays from 1pm to 3pm beginning September 25th (which also happens to be Porchfest, a neighborhood music festival). I invite complete novices as well as mechanically-minded people to join me.

-Larry Clarkberg

  • YES! Excellent post!
    I’ve been toying with the idea of a bike clinic also, although I wasn’t going to call it that and now I want to because it sounds like a pretty cool name!
    Actually if you hadn’t thought if it first I would call it Friends Bike Clinic! Because that name absolutely fits what I’ve been planning to do for over a year now but have only managed one or two sessions… but without any name to go by.

    Anyway good luck this is a most excellent idea. Maybe I can talk to you about sharing the name and starting a chapter here in Darwin Australia.

  • You got it. No problem re Name.
    I didn’t realize the connection between the Quakers and the use of the word Friends. I have just read a little about it.
    I am planning to base my activities at our local Uniting Church where we are trying to create an open and friendly environment that welcomes people from all walks of life. We operate an Opp-Shop and refreshment bar on Saturdays and are trying to build a community garden out the back.

    Here in Darwin we also processing centers for Asylum Seekers, once they are finally approved as ‘legitimate’ and allowed to enter society they are in need of basic transport. I am hoping to create a space where they can repair and maintain bikes that have been donated. So the Name could have other special connotations for us also.
    I know of one Quaker who is among our group of friends and is also a cyclist.


    • admin

      Hey your church looks pretty cool judging by the activity on your website. You’ve given me some ideas for more we could do at our Quaker meetinghouse, like the clothing swap idea. And we have a nice big courtyard within which we could host some sort of regular event like your Frilly’s.