By Alberto Gilman
Newburgh Rise and Ride Bike Shop celebrated its official grand opening on Saturday, August 6 from noon to four with a bike rodeo, free food, a DJ, raffles and an opportunity for visitors to see the new shop space located at 105 Ann Street, Suite 1 also known as the ADS Warehouse.
This new bike shop is part of the Rise and Ride initiative, which falls under IMPACT! Inc.
IMPACT! is a nonprofit organization based in the City of Newburgh at 120 South Street. IMPACT is currently led by Execute Director Damian DePauw, who is a longtime Newburgh resident.
According to DePauw, the bike shop falls under the Rise and Ride program which started several years ago, and the purpose of Rise and Ride is to promote bicycling interest, provide historical discovery and promote a healthier alternative form of transportation. Rise and Ride also offers three initiatives to the community: Bike Match, Critical Mass and Safety + Etiquette. Bike Match provides bikes to those who may need them, and IMPACT accepts bikes that can be repaired. Critical Mass is a bike ride through the city streets and thoroughfares from April to October on the last Friday of each month. Safety + Etiquette promotes and provides riders with bicycle safety information.
Prior to the conception and creation of the shop, it was during 2020 that DePauw recalled the City of Newburgh Transportation Advisory Committee [TAC], who are close supporters of IMPACT, had reached out to DePauw and IMPACT to see if they could repair several bikes that could then be donated back out into the community. IMPACT accepted the bikes and were able to make these repairs possible through another program known as the Newburgh Repair Cafe, according to DePauw.
“At IMPACT! Inc. we have another program that is the Newburgh Repair Cafe, and at the Newburgh Repair Cafe, roughly five or six times a year, we gather people together who are handy at repairing one thing or another,” DePauw said. “One of the things that was most common for people to bring, especially in the warmer months, was bicycles.”
In addition to the TAC, the City of Newburgh Police Department also caught wind of the cafe’s work and donated bicycles from their facilities that had not been claimed for years. In the spring of 2021, DePauw said IMPACT gave about 50 bicycles to those who needed them.
From that experience, it was there that the shop idea started to form and IMPACT started to apply for several grants to help in their efforts to make the shop a reality.
“We decided that Newburgh needs a bike shop,” DePauw said. “We got a grant from the Outride Fund and gave us a $12,500 matching grant. So we had a year to raise that amount of money to give us a total of $25,000, and we were able to do that.”
Funds from that Outride Fund grant, according to DePauw, have been used for rental expenses, utilities and for additional bike parts. Now with the shop officially open, the effort would not have been possible without the volunteers that have worked with DePauw.
For now, the shop will be open for several days during the week with limited hours. It will operate Tuesday from 5-9 p.m., Thursday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday from 12-6 p.m.
“Initially, we are opening as a bike kitchen. People bring their bikes in, they work on them themselves with the guidance of a bike-handy volunteer who is manning the shop at that time. We keep parts and tools on hand,” DePauw said. “One thing that I do want to mention is that we are always in need of people who are handy at working on bikes and we can always use volunteers. The second thing is we are always on the lookout for donations of bicycles.”
DePauw wanted to emphasize that this bike shop is more for the community rather than a commercial storefront. Residents can repair their bikes, purchase parts, and if bicycle donations are in good condition, donors can receive a tax deduction letter from the shop. In addition, bicycles can be purchased regularly or can be earned through community service based on the amount of hours, through an IMPACT created system.
Shop volunteers are also interested in teaching and providing lessons to the community youth on bike repair, depending on funding, and IMPACT is currently awaiting a grant that can hopefully bring new bicycles into the shop and hire some more full time employees. Updates on that will not be until mid to late August.
IMPACT is also working on an E-Bike Library initiative through a grant from ICF Inc. for a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority [NYSERDA] project known as the Clean Neighborhoods Challenge [CNC]. An E-Bike Library is a free of charge lending station where community residents are able to ride and use the bikes for everyday or casual usage.
A location has already been chosen for the potentially new E-Bike library should the grant be approved. “On the Washington Street side, there is a big tractor trailer bay, a loading dock, and that will be renovated and the majority of it will be taken up by the E-Bike library,” DePauw said.