Kingston’s Yellow Bike Action has been chosen as a 2020 recipient of Trailhead Kingston’s Eco-Grant. Every year, Trailhead invites groups or individuals to apply for the grant to help fund their environmental initiatives. Through funding offered by the Trailhead Eco-Grant, these initiatives have planted trees, built environmentally friendly school playgrounds, planted community gardens, built trails and helped kids get outside.
“Our grant has been issued to local green initiatives for over 10 years,” said James Malcom, owner of Trailhead Kingston. “Yellow Bike Action was chosen because they do fill the criteria of our Enviro grant as a local environmental initiative. As a store focused on human powered sport, the Yellow Bike Action fits our philosophy of enjoying the outdoors without the use of fossil fuels.”
Yellow Bike Action, whose aim is to encourage and empower individuals to take up cycling as a way of transportation through education and community building, applied to the grant thanks to a very helpful recommendation from a community member to one of their volunteers. This demonstration is one of the many reasons Yellow Bike Action say they are grateful for their strong network of support.
“We saw the Trailhead Eco-Grant as an excellent opportunity to address several large operational projects which we haven’t had the financial ability to take on until now, but which are critical in our organization’s continuation and growth,” said Mark Ouseley, mechanic, and one of the four keyholders at Yellow Bike Action. “The most urgent project has been our need to winterize our barn, followed by purchasing much-needed supplies and parts for specific bicycle repair projects and general operations that will help us expand our reach within the community.”
Ouseley said the funds will be split among three projects: the winterization project, the event toolbox project and the purchase of bicycle parts for ongoing projects.
The winterization project is just as it sounds, creating a four season space in which to continue their work throughout the winter months. The Yellow Bike Action workshop at the Memorial Centre is located in the Ness Barn, and has only been usable during the fair weather months of the year.
“This location houses most of our bicycle inventory and has served as our primary base of operations since the COVID-19 testing center temporarily prevented access to our indoor workshop located in the Memorial Centre,” Ouseley shared with Kingstonist. “As the weather cooled, we needed to create a sealed and heated space in the Ness Barn to allow us to continue working there, as it has become an integral extension of our operations.”
In the barn, Yellow Bike Action strips and recycles bicycles, and provides repair services for cyclists in the community.
“We created this winterized space by using plastic sheeting to enclose a portion of the barn, which will be heated with an efficient construction grade electric heater when the weather becomes colder,” Ouseley continued. “Zipper doors provide access to and from the space.”
“Winterizing our barn extends the service season for this building, enabling us to continue recycling bicycles and performing winter repairs on our client’s bicycles for longer,” he shared. “This will allow us to be better prepared for the spring season and will also enable us to comfortably use this space earlier in the spring, which is traditionally our busiest time of the year. Winterizing also increases the potential amount of mechanics working at any given time while respecting COVID indoor gathering restrictions.”
Running physically distanced events has been challenging for Yellow Bike Action during the pandemic, due to a limited tool supply. With the funds from the Eco-Grant, they plan to outfit Event Toolboxes, complete boxes of bike tools which will enable volunteers to work more efficiently and further limit contact with one another while fixing or recycling bicycles. Ouseley also said that these toolboxes will facilitate outreach and off-site workshops, helping the organization serve a broader community by allowing them to take tools with them to other locations.
Yellow Bike Action told Kingstonist they often run out of essential bike parts to complete bike projects they have on the go. “Because we are a non-profit organization and our primary source of inventory comes from donations, our work is limited to the items we have in-stock at any given time,” Ouseley stated. “The money from the Eco-Grant enables us to re-stock on much needed essential parts, which will, in-turn, allow us to complete more project bikes for the Kingston community. This has been of particular importance this year with the emergence of COVID-19, as there has been an ongoing shortage of bikes tied to a spike in interest for cycling. Having the extra funds to ensure bike projects are completed helps us fill this need in our community.”
The largest benefit the Eco-Grant provides Yellow Bike Action is also a wonderful benefit to the Kingston community.
“These improvements to our operations, enabled by the Trailhead Eco-Grant, benefit the Kingston community by ensuring that we can continue to provide accessible bikes, bike repair, and bike education to those in need,” remarked Ouseley. “We know this has a positive impact on individual community members by providing them with an accessible, reliable, and healthy form of transportation, and teaching practical skills that can empower them in numerous realms of their lives. The services we provide also benefit the community environment more broadly, by diverting bike waste from landfills and ensuring more bikes get back on the road. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions, noise pollution, and busy streets, which collectively improves our community.”
More details on Kingston Trailhead’s Eco-Grant can be found here: https://trailheadkingston.ca/pages/eco-grant