Monday, December 28, 2009

Reflections on Copenhagen

A giant mural and two beautiful cargo bikes

A week ago I returned to Spearfish after spending eight hectic days in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was there for the UN's COP15 climate conference due to the grant we received to start up the bike co-op. I was in Denmark with three others from Focus the Nation. The whole week was so busy, with hundreds of events going on all the time, that it felt like I didn't get a chance to do all that I wanted to during my time there. In retrospect, more than the official events of the conference, I feel like most of my time in Copenhagen was spent around the city, soaking up the bike culture and community events tied to climate change awareness. It was such an international and eclectic mix of people and ideas that I am definitely still digesting the whole experience.
The most important thing for me to do right now though is share some ideas that I think can be applied in Spearfish, both immediately this winter as well as long term goals.
First, I saw all kinds of bikes during my time overseas. A similarity between them all was that they were all utility bikes, for carrying big loads, traveling with children or just getting around town. Hardly any recreation bikes like here in the states. Everyone in Copenhagen bikes, because it is the most practical way to get around town. There are bike racks everywhere, in front of grocery stores, subway stations, just along the street - everywhere. All ages are on bikes, as soon as a kid can be strapped to a seat, s/he is on a bike. Mail/coffee/art - everything- is delivered by bike. I think that this is possible here in Spearfish too, almost all trips could be taken by bike if we just have the motivation to start doing so. This winter, as soon as the welder is up and running we will start trying to make our own versions of some of the Danish cargo bikes, but until then check out the Copenhagenize link for great inspiration to be more bikecentric. Come in with your own ideas for baskets and trailers, build your own cargo bike - be ready in time for spring.
Second, the infrastructure is set up such that bikes flow seamlessly with car traffic. Bikes know where they are supposed to be and cars likewise, this keeps all parties safer and avoids unpleasant interactions. Some of the bike infrastructure is better suited for large communities but much of it can be applied here in Spearfish, for example bike lanes and more bike racks. A few of us at the co-op are working with the city to try and address some of these issues, again if you have any ideas or input let us know, especially with the new renovations coming to downtown.
Lastly, and maybe due to the previous two observations, Copenhagen has a fantastic sense of community, everywhere people can be seen stopped and talking, bicyclists wave in passing at friends and neighbors and everything seems to exist on a smaller more local scale than is expected from a city of more than a million residents. Spearfish is expanding, development occurring further and further from the center of town and with it the sense of community stretching further apart. Transforming into a more bike friendly city may help counter this and keep Spearfish the very livable place it is.
These are some of the ideas and inspirations that I feel my time in Copenhagen has imparted and I think it matches nicely with what the co-op is trying to do and reinforces it. Once again if you have any ideas or concerns about the future of biking in Spearfish come by the shop and check it out. The more people we have involved the stronger the space is and the more good we can do for the community.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Solar Installation!

Well, the inverter hasn't arrived yet.. but on Saturday we successfully put up our four 230Watt Sunpower panels as well as ran the conduit for wiring.
Tom and Barton came down from Bozeman, MT to help with the installation: shovel snow off the roof, monkey around on high ladders in the cold and generally enjoy good times at the coop. Jesse, from Black Hills Solar, also came by and helped out. Mr Smith set up one fine electrical masterpiece and did some inspiring work with the pipe bender.
Other happenings in the workspace on Saturday- Jaycee painted our first mural: a bicycle Botticelli. Lots of people swung by to check out the shop and the solar unit. The fantastic new truing stand was finally mounted and used. Some new stencil graffiti has been added to the workshop. Cookies for breakfast and a welcome mid afternoon brownie delivery to warm us all up - thank you Mom! A very generous unicycle donation made for some entertainment in practicing/learning/watching. We also had our first open mic night - with spectacular appearances by several greasy wrench turners. And the evening finished off with a screening of everyone's favorite 80's bike classic "Breaking Away".

Thank you eveyone who helped out!
If you didn't get a chance to check out the Solar Party - please come by the shop anytime and look up.

The inverter is on it's way, and we should have power flowing by solstice. Which means we'll be producing more and more green energy everyday.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Solar Installation Today!!!

Today we will be installing the first grid-tied solar system in Spearfish. We had our four 215 Watt panels arrive the other day. Jeremy's old landlord drove down from Bozeman yesterday to come help with the installation. Barton has worked for Independent Power Systems out of Boulder and Bozeman for many years now and has extensive knowledge of the solar industry. We are faced with a bit of snowy weather this morning, but hopefully by the afternoon we get a few breaks in the sky!

Then this evening from 6-9 we will be hosting our first open-mic night at the Co-op. Lacey and Jaycee, a couple of our fantastic volunteers, have been doing the organizing for open mic! Be on the lookout for pictures in the next couple of days of this exciting day!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

some addendums

Forgot to say, If you or anyone you know needs a bike come on in. We have an ever growing pile waiting to find happy homes.


Also in the works is a Women Only night at the shop. Ladies come on in and learn care and maintenance of your bike and/or help teach these skills in a testosterone-free space.

A status report and some upcoming plans.

The Co-op is rolling along nicely. We are having three or four people stop by whenever we're open. Two bikes have been added to the streets that weren't out there before and many others have been brought in for a tune-up or just to fix a minor problem. We are also getting people in the space that have nothing wrong with there bike but just want to learn how to wrench so if they do run into trouble they're prepared. The grand opening a month ago also went well, we had about thirty people swing through during the day. Only four brave souls took the bracing ride down to the brewery in 11 degree weather but we had fifteen back at the shop for our showing of "Triplets of Bellville." More Bike-in movies are on the way. Also coming soon is our photovoltaic system. Plans are to install on Saturday the 5th of December. Also happening that same day/evening will be our first in a series of Open-mic nights. For more information on that or to sign up swing by the shop. And lastly, maybe most importantly, we are getting a truing stand in on Thursday so bring in those wobbly wheeels and learn how to get 'em riding straight again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Grand Opening this Weekend!

Come and check out our grand opening this weekend at the shop. It will take place from 1-5PM at our shop across from Sanfords.

During these hours we will have open space for you to come up and see what we have to offer the community. We will have a couple workshops throughout the afternoon on basic bicycle maintenance and tuning up your bike. So if your bike needs some tweaking, bring it on up and we'll help you out. Jesse from Rushmore has also offered to come up and do a wheel truing workshop if there is enough interest. We realize it will be quite cold, but we are still planning a ride to the Brewery at 5PM so bundle up if you are adventuresome!

After the brewery, back at the shop we will be watching a bike movie at the shop. We have a couple options and haven't decided on a title yet. If you have any questions, email us at: or call John at 641-3955 or Jeremy at 722-7535. See you Saturday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Swarm Days Parade Photos

The following are a few of the photos from the Swarm Days parade for Black Hills State University's homecoming. Hard to believe we now have snow this week. Sorry for the out-of-orderness.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

2009 Climate Ride

This last week I had the opportunity to participate in a bike ride from New York City to Washington DC. Around 170 riders from all across the country joined together to raise awareness of climate change issues, especially the recently introduced Senate climate bill and upcoming talks in Copenhagen this December. We rode 300 miles over five days and had the evenings filled with speakers and movies. Most of these speakers were also riding with us. Some highlights were the Danish Ambassador to the US, biking infrastructure consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen, and No-Impact Man Colin Beavan. Upon reaching DC we were joined by many local cyclists and continued onto the Capitol where we were then greeted by an array of Senators, Representatives and environmental/non-profit leaders. The following day Focus the Nation had arrange for all of the riders to be able to meet with their Congresspersons and Senators to raise concerns and push for stronger legislation to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Focus the Nation was one of the recipients of monies raised by riders to participate in Climate Ride. As a Focus the Nation fellow I was on the ride to thank the other riders and to explain this co-op project to them. These discussions with others riders also helped generate many good ideas that we can hopefully implement as the co-op grows.

And growing it is, during my absence John continued getting the space ready for our quickly approaching opening, October 10th. We are still working out details but keep an eye out for a community bike ride, slow bike races, a bike in movie and hopefully some collaboration with Hills Horizons and the last Farmers Market of the season.

For more info/pictures of the Climate Ride check out

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting Up and Pedaling

Welcome to the first post for our blog that will document the up and coming of Spearfish's new bicycle cooperative. We were started with a grant from a group called Focus the Nation. Focus the Nation is a youth oriented Nonprofit organization based out of Portland, Oregon that is dedicated to community based clean energy. For more information visit their website at

Over the next several months we will be getting our shop location up and running, raising community awareness, hosting workshops, and building more bicycle culture in Spearfish.

Inquiring minds may be asking just what a bicycle cooperative is. Traditionally Bicycle co-ops function as a place where community members can learn to maintain and repair their own bicycle. Coops are generally run by volunteers and are supported solely by donation and fundraising. They also work to distribute bicycles to people in need of a bike and they encourage bicycle involvement within the community.

In the last two days we've managed to get the space cleaned up a little as well as throw a new coat of paint on the walls and floor. People are already coming by to help out and give some community support. The basic bike tools are on their way and should be here Friday, which should be the same day we start moving in some of the bike parts we have accumulated.

If anyone is interested in helping out or otherwise lending a hand, our shop is at 727 North Ames in the old machine shop across from Sanford's. No set schedule yet, but check here as we get things going or send a line to and we can work something out.

Jeremy Smith and John Williams