"I don't need a car right now. My bike gets me where I need to go," says volunteer Derrick Milton, as he's cleaning the windows of a storefront at Grand Avenue Mall. "I'm saving money, doing the planet a good deed." Derrick is one of several volunteers lending a helping hand at Vulture Space, a do-it-yourself bike shop in downtown Milwaukee.
Vulture Space is a project of The Milwaukee Community Bicycle Project. Their mission: to get all of Milwaukee outside riding bikes. Their space sits right off of Plankinton Ave in the Grand Avenue mall, and offers the public free use of their bike tools, bike maintenance and repair classes and safe riding training.
Vulture Space was opened a few years ago after founder Evan Peck returned from a bike trip. "I go on a lot of bike trips. I've seen this business model of bike shops," Peck says. "They demystify bike maintenance." He volunteered at a shop like this in New Orleans and upon returning to Milwaukee, opened up shop and is inspiring riders around the city.
Toudy was one of Vulture Space's first "customers". "I love working on bikes," she says. "My brothers taught me how to work on bikes since I was 6. I've been fixing bikes for the kids in the neighborhood, but I don't have all the tools I need." She comes to Vulture Space each month to get the help she needs and in return, helps other customers of Vulture Space with their bike repairs.
Vulture Space is a non-profit, operating in part by money raised through sales of new and used bikes. Peck and his crew refurbish bikes to sell them as cost to people who cannot afford new bikes. They are open to donations of any kind, and even reuse bike parts for things other than bicycles. Volunteer Derrick Milton adds, "It shows people how renewable something can be. You shouldn't just throw stuff away just because you want something new or its just too old." He says if you bring it to Vulture Space, "it can always be refurbished or turned into something else."
Check out the story above to learn more about Vulture Space or donate your used bicycle/bike parts to their shop at 651 N Plankinton Avenue in the Shops of Grand Avenue Mall.