This past Tuesday, word out on the blogosphere (aka BikeJax) alerted me to a bicycle related planning meeting taking place, hosted by the North Florida Bike Club. Since its important Zombie make itself known to all parts of the bicycle community--especially when it relates to Jacksonville bike paths--I made sure to be in attendance.
Before I went in, my impression was a discussion focusing on what was being done to make Jacksonville safer for bikers, ie adding more bike lanes. Unfortunately, that wasn't exactly the case.
The two big headings for the evening were the program's long-range planning and their new safety campaign.
By "long range", the implication was to include paths and lanes to be done by 2035. The way they see it, in order for shit to get done, people need funds; in order to get this funding, they need to submit a plan. Plans that are still in the works and do not have a definitive timeline. The problem with directing all your energy on the long term planning are twofold: one, nothing was being mentioned about things being done now to effect transportation routes when biking is really getting into vogue and now would be a great time to act; two, by already having a list of things that are being, well, planned to be planned, the group is not allowing for a lot of flexibility to change direction later on. Once the infrastructure starts spending the allocated funds for whatever decided purpose, it will be a hell of a lot harder to stop and redirect. Which might not be that big of an issue if we were talking long range for commuters but sadly, the people they talked to and took census of (which by the demographic I met were not urban bikers, were not of a minority and were not of a younger crowd) wanted recreational, regional sites. Don't get me wrong, I love these kinds of trails, Philadelphia has a couple really great ones that will lead you to the different counties surrounding the city. They are beautiful and they are fun, but lets remember these kind of trails are built primarily with recreational use in mind. And when your thirty year plan (that wasn't available in an organized format) focuses on suburbia paths (the top two corridors being discussed are Vilano Bridge to Micklers Landing--Ponte Vedra--and Green Cove Springs to Black Creek Trail) you not only alienate a mass of city commuters, but also ignore citywide and national trends. Trends saying more people want to bike, but they just don't know how to make it work.
Which leads to the "new", "out of the box" safety campaign. First huge problem, one of the advertising representatives admitted she hadn't been on a bike since youth and the other said he was a mountain biker/trail user. Hmm. So the safety campaign they wish to enact rests on the tagline.. are you ready.. "Thanks for looking."
Seriously? Could we be more passive?
Or sexist, because of course that sells. One of the few posters shown was a girl walking backwards with arrows on her ass with the side note saying something like "Or you know maybe we could just look out a little more."
I raised my hand at this point and asked why we couldn't be more aggressive with slogans focusing on our right to be on the road. Since a lot of drivers (including some coppers) still have the misconception that road bikes, you know, don't belong on the road. The advertising rep wasn't too happy with criticism, and I wasn't the only one showing it. Of course, this is when what is beautiful about these kind of events started happening. Other people shared their criticism and suggestions, and while the rep disdainfully shot them all down, I had a bit of change in thought direction.
Someone else brought up the idea that these kind of campaigns are negative in that they give out the impression that there's something inherently dangerous in biking. And I realized this. is. so. true. I think even I shared that misconception before, especially in Philly. When you aren't on a bike, zipping through traffic looks ten times more hazerdous than it really is. When all you hear about biking is when a biker gets hit or the whole New York critical mass fiasco, of course you're going to get a negative impression on the whole activity. And this line of thought comes directly back to what Zombie Bikes is all about; when all you remember is fucking with your rear derailler for two hours, or that time you had to change your tube three times in one day because no one ever really showed you how, of course you're going to be reluctant about biking. We're busy trying to help people learn how to fix their bikes, but maybe we need to do more.
Zombie will do what it can to support NFBC's campaign because after all it comes down to solidarity, but meanwhile we're going to run a corresponding campaign. One that really focuses on why you should bike. I'm thinking t-shirts, wheatpasting and some good ole' tables with flyers in Five points, Riverside, San Marco and Springfield. Cheap, starter bikes can be found in thrift stores or Brooklyn can hook you up. You don't know much about bikes? We can help you learn some basic mechanics. You worried about riding some of the streets? We can do more organized rides, during the day incorparting more than just your usual bike crowd. This will obviously be a multi-month campaign. But everything starts somewhere, and I think this is something Zombie will be attacking full force.
For those who aren't aware, the warehouse complex housing Zombie Bikes also hosts two other independent shops: Royal Treatment Records--run by Tough Junkie, Ian/Triclops and Big Dunn--and Burro Bags--run by Chris and Matt. Recently, these two groups came together and purchased a screenprinting outfit and have since been pretty busy making some sweet shirts. Now naturally, given their proximity, Zombie would be fool not to take advantage of this amazing set up. We are eager to get shirts printed out in the next couple weeks, only we'd love some outside input. So long story short, we are in the need of an artist who wants to see their image out on the Jax streets and is happy with being paid for their talent in the form of a couple of shirts and Zombie love. The shirts will be sold for $5-7 with all proceeds going back to Zombie.
Also, Sundays are Potluck'd Polo Nights, come out and have fun!
Sorry we've been slacking with keeping an updated online account of our happenings at Zombie Bikes. We took a step back, looked at what our neighbors at Burro were doing, and decided to mimic them with starting our own Blogger account. Easy to both update and access--and free to use--we hope this will work out better than our old website.
We get a lot of questions about Zombie, and I'm hoping we were able to answer the majority of them on the right. As far as the schedule goes for this weekend: we will be open today (Friday) until 8pm Saturday 11-5 Sunday 3-7, Bike Polo @ 4 along with our first potluck @ 7
What do you mean when you say Zombie is a "Co-Op"?
Zombie Bikes is co-operatively run by a group of volunteers. Money we receive, either through donations or bike work, goes right back into the shop to meet overhead costs and keep us stocked with such necessities as tools, grease and parts.
What kind of work do you do?
Our volunteer mechanics do everything from tube repairs to bottom bracket adjustments at the lowest prices. On weekends, and days we are fully staffed, the shop is also open for guided repairs, which means we offer the use of our equipment and know-how to help you learn how to repair your own bike. We also build up several bikes a month for sell, and are eager to help out with any bike builds you might have thought up. All of our parts and frames are used/donated, but we will work with you to get the right parts should you want to buy new and learn how to assemble.
What are your hours?
Because our shop is volunteer run (and as busy individuals we all have several commitments), we make and set our own hours by the week, which have the tendency to shift week-by-week. We keep a schedule for each upcoming week up at the shop, and will try our best to keep that updated online. As of 4/17 we are open Fri 3:30-5:30 Sat 11:00-5 Sun 12-5
What is your goal?
We love bikes, we love working on bikes, and we love community action. Our goal is to provide affordable bike repair and education to our community. We want to see Jacksonville become the great biking city it ought to be. We feel that our part in making that a reality is offering a place full of the tools, resources and staff that will allow anyone to get a better grasp on bicycle mechanics. We believe education fosters involvement.
Besides shop stuff, what kind of events do you do?
We host weekly games of bike polo on Sundays just after 4pm. Co-op volunteers are also working with other members of the bicycle community in activities such as the upcoming October 11th Bike Night (http://thenightride.blogspot.com/) where we will host bike repair workshops. We also are looking forward to creating a bicycle installation at Art Walk within the next couple months. A long-term goal we have is a kids repair program, where enrolled kids will earn donated bike frames through repair lessons and group rides (modeled after Philadelphia’s bike program; see neighborhoodbikeworks.org). Other ideas we are hoping to implement soon will be bi-monthly movie nights at the shop, monthly shows and polo tournaments. If you have any ideas, or places you would like to see us at, please email us details!
How can I help you out?
How do I count the ways?!
If you know something about bike repair, we would love to add you to our volunteer staff. After all, the more we are open, the more people we can help!
If you are a musician, we would love you to donate your talent at an upcoming show!
If you are an artist, we need flyers, flyers, flyers!
If you run a business, we would love to trade your support for our support!
If you are a writer, we would love to think-tank some Jax-based zine ideas with you!
If you like alleycats and bike tricks, we would love to set up another Jax race!
If you have old bikes lying around, we are always in need of more parts and frames!
If you like to cook, we really want to work out a potluck Sunday before/during/after bike polo!
If you organize events, include us!
If you have extra tools, we’d love to take them off your hands!