2016-04-07 / Around Town

Bike Newport on the Move

By James Merolla


With the generosity of owner Butch Murray, and the help of Northeast Collaborative Architects, Bike Newport is moving to 29 Spring Street. Pictured from left to right: Henri Venable, Glenn Gardiner, Jeff Moniz, Murray, Bari Freeman, and Mary Ellen Lynch. With the generosity of owner Butch Murray, and the help of Northeast Collaborative Architects, Bike Newport is moving to 29 Spring Street. Pictured from left to right: Henri Venable, Glenn Gardiner, Jeff Moniz, Murray, Bari Freeman, and Mary Ellen Lynch. This story has many moving parts. But that’s OK, because it’s about bikes.

Butch Murray, owner of the Fastnet Pub, has generously lent the pub’s adjacent property at 29 Spring St. (the former site of Jey’s Detailing) as a new kickstand for Bike Newport.

Bike Newport – whose very name reveals its mission to get more Newporters around the city on bikes – will relocate this month from a city-owned building at the former Triplett School on Broadway to its new rent-free digs next to the former Coffey’s Citgo near the Colony House. The building has two garage bays which will provide a spacious central location to bring bike culture to the heart and flow of Newport in the coming season.

“I hadn’t yet decided what to do with the Jey’s building, and it’s a shame to keep it empty while I consider the options,” said Murray. “We’re coming up on the best time of year to be outside and enjoy Newport, so Bike Newport’s proposition made sense. If 29 Spring St. can be part of that progress, so be it.”

Bike Newport has existed for three years, during which time it has restored and distributed at least 150 bikes. Now, with its administrative offices about to stand side-by-side with its garage, everyone can more easily benefit from the repair and distribution of discarded bikes.

“Every step of the bicycle renaissance in Newport has been thanks to the generosity, partnership, collaboration, and vision among planners, advocates, preservationists, and businesses,” said “spokes” person Bari Freeman regarding Murray’s offer. “We are grateful to Butch Murray and to the architects at NCA [Newport Collaborative Architects]. It will be wonderful to demonstrate what is possible.”


Executive Director Bari Freeman led children through the many steps of wise riding, including how to signal left- and right-hand turns, and how to execute the Newport Wave at last year’s Bike Back to School event hosted by Bike Newport. Volunteers distributed 20 bikes and helmets (all donated). (Photo by Jack Kelly) Executive Director Bari Freeman led children through the many steps of wise riding, including how to signal left- and right-hand turns, and how to execute the Newport Wave at last year’s Bike Back to School event hosted by Bike Newport. Volunteers distributed 20 bikes and helmets (all donated). (Photo by Jack Kelly) Architects are in the conversation because Murray is willing to swap occupancy for cleanup in the short term.

In order to procure the space to form what organizers call the “Bike Barn,” Bike Newport staff and volunteers will clean, repair and paint the space from April 11-29 in preparation for a May 1 opening. They are calling it a Barn Raising.

Glenn Gardiner, principal at NCA, saw the promise of the location from the first suggestion and his firm is busy planning the design of the space.

“Newport is ready for a healthy dose of bike culture, and this matchup of space, generosity, and vision, the partnering of Fastnet and Bike Newport in the historic center of town, honors this city’s passion and promise to improve and encourage bicycling. We’re thrilled to help make it happen.”

When finished, people can pass through and with their own elbow grease guided by the help of resident mechanics, build or fix a bike of their choosing. The bikes are collected from community donations, recycling days, and abandonment. Collected bikes are triaged for restoration, or stripped for parts, making a fleet of bikes available to new owners.

“Ultimately, everyone who wants a bike will have one, regardless of financial constraints” added Henri Venable, Bike Newport’s education manager. “That’s our goal.”

Residents may use the Barn’s tools and its workspace to fix their own bikes, and basic maintenance classes will help all cyclists know how to change tires, replace chains, and get out of the typical jams that need not derail a local trip.

Freeman was clear that the Barn will not be a place for bikes to be dropped off for repairs. “We are not a repair shop,” said Freeman. “We have our local bike shops for that.”

But those shop owners are also pitching in with fervor. Tom Kearns, owner of Ten Speed Spokes, one of three full-service bike stores in the Newport area, said, “Our mechanics enjoy helping community members restore bikes at the Bike Garage [at Rogers

High School].”

The Bike Garage at Rogers and the Bike Library at the Florence Gray Center are two programs that will continue for those who enjoy bike building and repair programs.

Look for notices about wheel building, internal hub construction, and more as a reminder that the Bike Library is open every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Volunteers are being sought to join the Barn Raising every day from April 11-29 from 3 to 8 p.m. Food is provided. Email availability, group interest and questions to henri@bikenewportri.org or call 401-619-4900.

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