Q&A with John Martin, owner of Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op
Interview by Helen Hen
What does Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op do?
John Martin: “We get bikes back on the street. We have a big recycling program where folks donate their bikes to us, then volunteers and staff fix them up, and we donate half of them to folks who need them, IRIS being one of our big recipients. We sell the other half to subsidize the project.
We also have an open shop for folks to come in and pay what they can, and use the space and tools to fix bikes themselves. On top of that, we spend time with people from different walks of life. We come together over the act of fixing a bike which is fun and pretty powerful.”
How did the company start?
John Martin: “ Actually a big part of the program has its roots in IRIS. The Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op was started by me in 2015. Then I quickly met two people, Joel L. and Paul Hammer, who were running a small bicycle recycling program with IRIS. IRIS would help collect bikes and give them to Paul and Joel, they would fix them all up, sell half and then donate the rest back to IRIS. They encouraged me to take that program and run with it. We give 60 bikes to IRIS clients directly per year.”
What is the advantage of having a bike?
John Martin: “New Haven is really segregated by income. The affordability and the efficiency of owning a bike for someone who is struggling financially is really valuable. And then you have all these bonuses, it’s good for the environment, good for physical health, good for mental health, it reduces congestion in the city and traffic problems and it’s cheap.
For IRIS folks who are brand new to the country, they often come with just their bags and the clothes they have. When you’re transitioning to an entirely new home and new life, even if your bike is your second mode of transportation, it’s great! You can pop over to the corner store and use it for small trips.
IRIS is a beautiful partner we’ve been working with since the beginning in 2015. Paul passed away last year, but Joel is still a volunteer at the bike co-op and a dear friend and mentor, who helps out all the time. It’s fun to have this continuity and IRIS is like the birth of who we are and is at the core of our work, so we’re lucky and privileged to have a relationship, because you do amazing work.”
For more, visit Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op: www.bsbc.co.