Butch Murray is the owner of the Fastnet Pub, and the adjacent property that formerly housed Jey’s Detailing. Recently, Murray pulled a page from the Generosity Handbook when he agreed to provide the space to Bike Newport – to bring bike culture to the heart and flow of Newport for the coming season.
“I hadn’t yet decided what to do with the building, and it’s a shame to keep it empty while I consider the options. We’re coming on the best time of year to be outside and enjoy Newport, so Bike Newport’s proposition made sense. I’ve been a supporter of Bike Newport since they started getting more people on bikes – if 29 Spring Street can be part of that progress, so be it!”
Bike Newport’s proposition? To move our administrative offices side-by-side with our Bike Garage activities, and put it all in easy reach of the folks who can benefit from the repair and distribution of donated bicycles.
Our occupancy at the City’s 437 Broadway property is coming to an end, but 29 Spring Street’s offices and two garage bays could be the silver lining. Because, Butch Murray, the community-minded property owner is welcoming us for the short term.
At the Bike Barn, the people of Newport, with the help of resident mechanics, will build or fix a bike of their choosing. The bikes, collected from community donations, recycling days, and abandonment, are triaged for restoration or stripped for parts. In the process, we’re keeping usable bikes and parts out of the waste stream, and making a fleet of bikes available to new owners. To date, we have collected, restored and distributed more than 100 bikes, and there are plenty more where those came from.
Henri Venable, our new Manager of Educational Program is modeling the Bike Barn on the Community Bike Project in Bloomington, IN, where he worked prior to coming to Newport. “Ultimately, everyone who wants a bike will have one, regardless of financial constraints,” explains Henri, “That’s our goal.” In addition, residents will be able to use the Barn’s tools and used parts to fix their own bikes, and basic maintenance classes will help all cyclists to know how to change tires, replace their chains and get out of the typical pickles that need not derail a delightful Ocean Loop bike ride or an easy jaunt to the grocery store.
The Bike Barn is not is a bike repair shop. If you’re looking for a place to drop your bike, consider one of the bike retailers in town. If you’re looking to get a little greasy yourself, we’re your place. Tom Kearns, owner of Ten Speed Spokes, shares, “Our mechanics enjoy helping community members to restore bikes with Bike Newport, while we repair bikes and sell new bikes and components at the shop. The rising tide of biking is raising all boats!” Yes, indeed, the more people on bikes, the better for all of our community bike businesses.
How will we build The Bike Barn? – with a Barn Raising, of course. Northeast Collaborative Architects (NCA) of Washington Square are helping us to plan and design the space – also a generous contribution of talent. From April 11th to 29th, Bike Newport staff and supportive volunteers will spend afternoons and evenings cleaning, repairing, and painting. By May 1st, Bike Newport and the Bike Barn will be open for business.
Glen Gardiner, principal at NCA, saw the promise of this location from the first suggestion, “Newport is ready for a healthy dose of bike culture. This matchup of space, generosity, and vision, the partnerships in the historic center of town honors this city’s passion and promise to improve and encourage bicycling. NCA is thrilled to help make it happen.”
For those who enjoy the bike building and repair programs at the Bike Garage at Rogers, and the Bike Library at the Florence Gray Center – those programs will continue as well. Look for notices about wheel building, internal hub construction, and more, and remind your kids that the Bike Library is open for action every Saturday from 9:30am-12:30pm, with more hours to come. Check out bikenewportri.org/ bike-garage for the full list of locations and programs, and the local retail resources for new bikes and components.
Any and all help is appreciated as Bike Newport Raises the Barn – every day from April 11th to April 29th from 3pm to 8pm with food and fun provided, and always the chance to toast Butch at the Fastnet afterwards. Community service hours are available to students and employees.
Every step of the bicycle renaissance in Newport has been thanks to generosity, partnership, collaboration, and vision among planners, advocates, preservationists, and businesses. In addition to Butch Murray and NCA, we thank the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the FH Prince Memorial Fund, RIDOT Highway Safety Program, the RI Department of Health, the 1772 Foundation, Senate President Paiva Weed, Rep Lauren Carson, the City of Newport, and the countless businesses and individuals who support the advance of bicycle friendly culture.
Photo: Thanks to the generosity of owner Butch Murray, and the help of Northeast Collaborative Architects, we’re moving to 29 Spring Street. (l-r) Henri Venable, Glenn Gardiner, Jeff Moniz, Butch Murray, Bari Freeman, and Mary Ellen Lynch.