Dean Kahn

Bellingham firm builds bike-repair kiosk as gift to public

A-1 Builders president Rick Dubrow, left, and employee Patrick Martin mount a bike July 24 at the new bike-maintenance station the company built outside its offices at 3310 Northwest Ave. in Bellingham. The self-service station offers free use of tools, a bike pump, how-to repair books, maps and other information.
A-1 Builders president Rick Dubrow, left, and employee Patrick Martin mount a bike July 24 at the new bike-maintenance station the company built outside its offices at 3310 Northwest Ave. in Bellingham. The self-service station offers free use of tools, a bike pump, how-to repair books, maps and other information. The Bellingham Herald

A-1 Builders in Bellingham has been a bicycle-friendly company for years. A decade ago, to mark the company’s 50th anniversary, A-1 built a large covered space for bicycle parking at the downtown Community Food Co-op store.

Now, for its 60th anniversary, A-1 has built a covered community kiosk with a public bicycle repair station by the sidewalk outside its offices at 3310 Northwest Ave. Rick Dubrow, company president and an avid biker, said Bellingham and other communities would benefit from more bike-repair stations.

“Our hope is that this is the first of many,” he said.

At first, the folks at A-1 were thinking about installing just a kiosk for community notices. Then, last September, Patrick Martin, a production manager at A-1, took his daughter to The Evergreen State College in Olympia and saw a sturdy bicycle pump and repair station installed outdoors by some dormitories. He thought back to the idea of a kiosk, and realized a pump and repair station could fit inside.

“I thought we should put the two together,” said Martin, who did much of the design work for the station.

A 12-by-12-foot concrete slab forms the base. Look closely and you’ll see the slab is decorated with old bicycle parts — gears, tire rims, lengths of bicycle chain — embedded in the concrete, along with leaf plants that resemble fossils.

The side walls have plastic-covered maps showing local bicycle routes, trails, parks, and Whatcom Transportation Authority bus routes. There’s also a bulletin board for community notices. On the outside back wall of the kiosk hangs covered shelves for a small community lending library, where people can drop off and borrow books.

Inside the fir kiosk, bolted to the slab, is a vertical metal stand that holds a bicycle while it’s repaired, tuned up or given air. Basic bicycle-repair tools hang from the stand, secured by long cables to prevent theft. A sticker on the stand has a QR code, so bikers with smartphones can scan the code to reach a website with short how-to videos about basic bicycle repairs.

Bolted next to the stand is a sturdy, hand-powered bicycle pump.

“It puts out a lot of air,” Martin said.

Nearby on a shelf are two bicycle repair how-to books, also secured to prevent theft. A motion detector turns on several lights when people enter the kiosk at night, for nighttime repairs and for public safety.

The installation cost about $16,000, with much of the expense covered by donations of money, materials and labor, Dubrow said.

Martin said they might seek grants and crowdsource funding to pay for more fix-it stations in the community. Once the stand and pump were installed last month, he realized quickly the station would prove popular with the bicycling public.

“Within seven minutes a guy arrived on a bike with his kid in a trailer,” Martin said.

More fix-it stations coming

At Western Washington University, three bicycle fix-it stations with attached pumps are expected to arrive in a few weeks and be installed soon after, said Nate White, who coordinates grants from a student-approved fee for environmental programs on campus. The stations and pumps will installed on the north side of the student recreation center, the north side of Arntzen Hall, and the west side of Haggard Hall.

Each station will be under full or partial cover provided by a building, White said, and will be near bicycle parking that’s covered and partly covered. The stations and pumps cost nearly $4,000, not counting installation.

In downtown Bellingham, a bicycle repair station with tools and a foot-powered pump for air will be included when 18 bicycle parking spaces are installed later this year at the main bus terminal. The work will be done at the northeast end of the terminal after city crews finish making improvements to Champion Street, said Shelly Davis, operations supervisor with Whatcom Transportation Authority.

She said the fix-it stand and pump would be available for use by the general community as well as by people who are combining bike trips with bus rides.

“It’s hard to find a place to put air in your tires,” Davis said.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-2291 or dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com. Read his columns at bellinghamherald.com/dean-kahn.

People who made it happen

These people donated money, material and labor for the bicycle fix-it station and kiosk outside of A-1 Builders and Adaptations Design Studio, 3310 Northwest Ave.

A-1 workers who donated labor: Maggie Bates, Patrick Martin, Shawn Serdahl, Jake Dyrland, Wes Wertman, Mike Gill, John Botts, Jordan Simmons, Rick Dubrow, Chris Hanson, Bobbi Plata and Cindi Landreth.

Other people who donated labor: Petra LeBaron Botts and Jim McCann.

Donated money: CAZ Energy Services, Tom Dorr & Associates Consulting, Brandon Nelson Partners, Bourne Engineering, Tim Cathersal, Naomi Bunis, Karen and Karl Mueller, Scott Moore, Graham and Donna Hunter, Richard and Helen Scholtz, Richard Whittaker, Kathy Hasenjaeger, Quicksilver Photo Lab, John Lindh, Harvey Schwartz, Phyllis Graham, Duane Jager, Environmental Abatement Services, Jane and Robert Ball, Marguerite and Allen Johnson, Liz Donovan, Hoagland Pharmacy, Plain English Technology Services, and Blanche Bybee.

Donated materials and labor: iO Creative, Special-T Signs, JM Electric, Action Concrete, The RE Store, Architectural Elements, Carlson Steel, Cowden Concrete, Evergreen Materials, Foundation Restoration, Greggerson Painting, Peetoom Construction, Plantis Nativa and A-1 Builders.

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