The Silicon Valley Bike Exchange is no longer on the brink of closure. The nonprofit, which repairs bikes and donates them, is set to relocate to a Palo Alto industrial office space being provided temporarily by Google.
Located at 3961 E. Bayshore Road, the new 6,000-square-foot space is a significant upgrade for the Bike Exchange. The scrappy group of bicycle lovers has been operating in a small, 500-square-foot space tucked behind an auto garage at 2566 Leghorn St. in Mountain View. But for years, Bike Exchange members found a way to make the space work, using it to host bicycle repair tutorials, sales and other events.
That changed earlier this year when the family that owns the property said they were planning to sell the site, triggering a small crisis for the Bike Exchange. The nonprofit operates on a budget of about $12,000 a year, which is mostly spent on repair supplies. Bike Exchange members had little ability to pay market-rate rents, and they publicly urged the community to help find a new low-cost location.
The solution came from members' own professional network. Bike Exchange board president Dave Fork, a Google employee, was able to tap his employer's philanthropic arm, Google.org, for help. The Bike Exchange was eventually presented with an opportunity to lease the Bayshore Road space, which Google reportedly owns but is not currently using. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.
"The Bicycle Exchange has supported our community for many years and Google is happy to return the favor by providing space for them to continue their vital work," said Javier Gonzalez, Google public affairs manager, in a statement to the Voice.
Bike Exchange members are thrilled to have the new home, Fork said. It will take weeks to transport all their inventory, including an assortment of spare parts and about 300 bikes in various states of repair. Up until the move, he expects his members may need to politely decline donations of bikes. They expect to be finished relocating to the new space by November.
"It's an embarrassment of riches compared to what we have now. This will allow us to expand our programs in various ways," Fork said. "For the first time we can think of other possibilities."
With the extra space, Fork's ideas for the Bike Exchange included offering more bike repair classes or hosting special team-building events for local businesses and organizations. Some laser cutters and manufacturing gear could be brought in, and the Bike Exchange could serve as a kind of makerspace, he said.
More information on the Bike Exchange can be found on its website.