Bike Kitchen


A California State Library LSTA grant program intended to facilitate easy duplication of successful projects

Informational Webinar

Description: The Bike Kitchen is a "bike pop-up shop" that occurs at San Diego Public Library (SDPL) Central Library two Saturdays each month. Partnering with a local bicycle shop, the library obtained a large collection of tools and employs a bicycle mechanic to work with community members who walk-up with bicycle repair issues.

Purpose: The Bike Kitchen was developed after an initial pilot program indicated a need, particularly among low-income members of the library community, for access to tools and education about bicycle maintenance.

Target Audience: This is a program for all members of the library community who are commuters, leisure riders, or who rely on bicycles as their main means of transportation. In SDPL's case, the downtown location and proximity to large concentrations of low-income residents and persons experiencing homelessness assures access for those most in need. Early in the program, scheduled workshops were offered, but the walk-up service of the Bike Kitchen was much more popular with participants, reached the most people, and best met their needs.

Expected outcomes: This program empowers participants by increasing their knowledge of bicycle maintenance and repair. It enables them to ride safely to work and home by providing library users with access to shop-grade bicycle tools, professional assistance, and hands-on learning opportunities and educational resources including a series of web-based tutorial videos.

Partnership: Partnering with a local bicycle shop is key to the success of SDPL's Bike Kitchen. They found it best to have a professional mechanic on hand for each Bike Kitchen event to provide patrons with guidance, best practices, and service. Visit our partners page for tips on fostering relationships with partners.

Budget Considerations

  • Compensation for contracted bike technician
  • Tools
  • Consumables
  • Storage shed/toolbox
  • Marketing materials

See original application for more detail and in-kind staff estimates.

Implementation Steps

  • Needs assessment
    SDPL staff surveyed patrons at the bike racks outside their library to determine interest in the program. Example: Community Assessment Bicycle Survey (pdf format)
  • Find a partner
    Learn more here: Bike Kitchen Partnership information (pdf format)
  • Order supplies through partner
    Examples: Bike Kitchen Supplies and Materials information (pdf format) and Bicycle Kitchen Invoice (pdf format)
  • Locate and procure secure storage space
    in the library for supplies. Tools, racks, toolboxes and your tent will take up a decent amount of space, and a secure place to store these expensive items is important.
  • Determine Venue
    Programming is best offered outside the library by the bike racks, a natural place to encounter potential customers. Bicycle maintenance and repair requires space for a rack mounting the bicycle, a spread of tools, a mechanic and a "student."
  • Decide on frequency of program
    Pick a regular day of the month such as the 3rd Saturday to hold Bike Kitchen events. Many Bike Kitchens around the country follow this kind of schedule for consistency, ease of planning, and advertising purposes. It’s much easier for a person to know something is happening on the 3rd Saturday of every month rather than needing to access a calendar to search for an event.
  • Publicize program
    Marketing your Bike Kitchen is vital to its survival. Digital and physical posters, social media posts, videos, and fresh content will keep people interested. Most marketing can be done via social media. Because people are sometimes shocked by the fact the service is free and may presume it’s a cost service, it's helpful to include the phrase "This service is FREE and open to the public." Examples: 20 second video, SDPL Bike Kitchen Website
  • Implement programming
    Example: Bike Kitchen Implementation hints (pdf format)
  • Collect feedback for evaluation
    Patrons will often feel strongly about this new, outside-the-box service you’re providing. Keep comment cards in your toolbox. If patrons want to express gratitude (or frustration), give them a vehicle to do so. Example: Bike Kitchen feedback form (pdf format)