Vélocity Bicycle Co-op in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA, is a little different than most bike shops. Instead of tailoring itself to high-end riders astride carbon-fiber wonders or bicycle messengers on fixed-gear workhorses, Vélocity focuses instead on bringing bicycling to the community.
The storefront location on Mt. Vernon Avenue is crammed with every conceivable kind of bike and bike part. Tires hang from the ceiling. Rare vintage Italian gears are in the display case. Wooden shelves are stocked full of shifters, brake levers, reflectors and every other kind of hardware. In the middle of the floor are six workstations where the real work happens.
For a $10/hour suggested donation you can learn how to take apart, adjust, lube, maintain, and eventually reassemble your bicycle. From changing a tube to replacing front deraileurs, the mostly volunteer staff, which bridges many generations, is there to help you in your quest for total bicycling autonomy with seasoned advice and, if necessary, an extra set of hands. The vast majority of the parts available are donated by the community and can be had for under $10, making this a great resource for riders from all backgrounds and skill levels. On a Saturday afternoon the customer base ranges from enthusiast cyclers doing a tune-up before a long ride to people who need their bikes to get to and from work.
But another way in which Vélocity really shines is in its community outreach and programming. They offer youth programs that train kids how to repair a bicycle, donated by the community. After the student has learned the basics and completed the work the bike is their's to keep. They also host bi-weekly community rides that help to build the local riding community, encourage safety, and allow people to get out and enjoy life on two wheels.
For more information roll over to www.velocitycoop.org