The Alley Bike Shop is an incredible Whittier neighborhood resource that is also a bit of a hidden secret. The Bike Shop is run out of the garage of Jeff “Nacho” Carlson, who is a youth worker at Village Parks, a community ed coordinator at Whittier Elementary, and a parent of a Youth Farmer.
The bike shop is a labor of love and runs whenever Nacho is free or when he can bring in one of the teens from around the neighborhood who help run the Alley: Francisco, Karen, and Sergio. The Alley is more than just a place for people to pop in and buy a new bike or tube. Most of the people who come by the Alley are either homeless or are a parent or a young person wh0 lives within a block or two. The staff focus on teaching the community members the skills to fix their own bikes. Frame and parts are available for free for people who are willing to put in the labor and learning to build their own bike. All the staff are invested in the young people who come by the shop and intentionally engage as positive mentors.
Last year the Alley and Lyndale Youth Farm teamed up on a program we called “Peas and Pegs.” Youth Farmers worked with Alley staff to fix up the fleet of Youth Farm bikes before the summer program began. If Youth Farmers had bikes that needed repairs they were able to learn how to fix them. And all summer long the Alley was space for us to come by and learn how to make basic repairs from changing a tube to tightening handle bars. We continue to work together every year to build transportation equity for everyone in our neighborhood!
Along the side of the garage there is a catalogue of all the languages spoken by community members who have visited the Alley, all saying “Welcome.” Here is our little chance to say tusen tack / gracias / merci / thank you!