In a city where affordable, sustainable transportation is difficult to come by, one person is working to give community members wheels.
Sarah Sidelko founded the bicycle program Fender Bender in 2010, and the project now has a home at the Cass Community Commons in Detroit. Less of a shop than a community and education center, Fender Bender is meant specifically for women, queer and transgendered people. For now, Sidelko runs the space part-time in addition to working two other jobs, but she squeezes in open shop nights, mechanic training classes and bike-related art workshops.
She also works on cyclist-targeted projects, like a map for city bikers. And after thinking about models of bike-sharing systems in other cities like Austin and Chicago, she believes it’s something Detroit needs, too, though she has her own take.
“I started talking with friends about how we could also make bike shares more aligned with the principles of environmental friendliness,” Sidelko explained.
She’s now in the first stages of creating a bicycle lending library for Detroit, fixing up donated, used bikes one at a time. She has 14 finished, with a plan to have 10 to 15 more restored by June for a first, trial fleet.