By Margo Greenman
Bicycles have served many purposes throughout the years. For some people, bicycles are a means of transportation, for others they serve as a gateway to fitness and leisure. But, whether you ride your bike out of necessity or choice, sometimes bicycles break and you need access to tools, education or even just a space to administer repairs. Luckily for Tacoma residents who have embraced an ever-growing bike culture, there is a place that provides all of these things.
2nd Cycle opened its “doors” several years ago, back in 2008. Friends Travis Martin, Ben Atkinson, Adam Barnes, Ken Sutto, Rachael Laub, and Noah Struthers collaborated to provide a communal place where people could come and fix their bikes. Located in the garage of an anarchist collective house in east Tacoma, the “shop” was outfitted with nothing more than a few tools and a bike stand. “The place was tiny; a shoebox, really. We were open – drinking beers and fixing bikes – two days a week,” says Struthers, one of 2nd Cycle’s founding members.
Though the operation was small, it piqued the interest of the community. Funds were raised through donations, and 2nd Cycle moved to its second location: a storage unit in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Tucked out of sight behind two restaurants, the unit had no insulation and no bathroom. In short, it wasn’t ideal. However, the fittingly dubbed “Bike Cave” continued to gain popularity among the community, and after three years at its storage unit location, funds were raised and 2nd Cycle was able to move to it’s current location: a street-facing storefront located on South 13th and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
Growing from its humble garage-based beginnings to the the storefront that stands today, 2nd Cycle is able to provide the community with access to affordable parts and bikes, education, tools and space. “Folks can come in, chat with us about what type of cycling they want to do, and they’ll be set up with a full-on, used commuter bike with fenders, lights and a lock for under $300,” says Struthers.
While 2nd Cycle has grown, providing the community with the tools and knowledge they need to fix their bicycles is still at the core of it all. “We had this guy come in that was towing a utility trailer with a lawn mower on it. This wasn’t a bike trailer, this was an adapted car utility trailer – it was huge,” Struthers says. “He needed to get his bike fixed in order to continue doing business. He came in, we showed him how to fix his rear brake, and then he fixed the front one on his own. That is the kind of thing we love to see people using our space for.”
Open five days a week (Thursday-Monday), 2nd Cycle is bustling with all types of bike-minded patrons. “The amazing thing to me is the diversity of people that come through the door,” continues Struthers. “[2nd Cycle] is a great place to meet people that are not like minded, but that have a common denominator: the bicycle.”
Acknowledging that 2nd Cycle has grown into a sort of community gathering place, the organization hosts a variety of community-based events that are encouraged to engage the community and get them excited about bicycles while they’re at it.
Scheduled nearly every Thursday from 6pm-8pm, 2nd Cycle hosts a Women and Transgender Friends (WTF) Night. “It’s a safe learning space reserved for women, queer, genderqueer/trans, and any other folks who feel uncomfortable or threatened by the machismo that can sometimes dominate bike shop culture,” says Struthers. In addition to WTF Night, 2nd Cycle has worked with the Salishan Community Health Advocates and Tacoma Mobility. 2nd Cycle is also known for opening its doors to serve as a meeting space for organizations like local women’s cycling club VeloFemme, explains Struthers.
Because 2nd Cycle is a non-profit, they rely on volunteers, donations and grants to stay afloat and continue providing the community with affordable access to tools, parts, space, resources and more. Struthers explains that 2nd Cycle is always accepting donations, monetary or material, and that they are always interested in bringing on new volunteers. People interested in donating time, money or materials can contact 2nd Cycle at email@example.com, or by visiting the shop at its location at 1312 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, Thursday-Monday, 12pm-6pm.