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Patron in the City: John Martin

Patron in the City: John Martin

We believe that passionate individuals can spur change in their communities. We refer to those individuals as Patrons in the City.

John Martin (he/him) is the founder and director of The Connecticut Community Bicycle Workshop (CCBW), which operates out of his community bike repair and event space, the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op (BSBC). John grew up in the New Haven region, and moved to the city to build community and equity through his passion for getting more people on bikes. Beyond his work with CCBW and BSBC, John serves on the board of the Urban Resources Initiative, is Democratic co-chair for Ward 7, and sits on New Haven’s Economic Development Commission.

In 2020, John Martin, as part of the Connecticut Community Bicycle Workshop, launched the Patronicity crowdfunding campaign 100 Bikes for Better Access, to recycle and donate 100 bicycles to people in New Haven, CT in need of safe and affordable transportation.

According to 100 Bikes for Better Access’ campaign page, lack of quality transportation is one of the greatest obstacles people in New Haven face in accessing jobs. Among those registered with CTWorks, 84% identified transportation as an obstacle to work, higher than any other barrier. While cars are prohibitively expensive, public transportation is prohibitively slow and inefficient; less than one-third of jobs in New Haven are accessible by public transportation in under 90 minutes. Bicycles, on the other hand, are inexpensive, fast, and reliable. Accessible and affordable transportation is essential not only for work but also for consistent access to services, healthcare, and other resources.

100 Bikes for Better Access’ campaign

At Patronicity, we believe that passionate individuals can spur change in their communities. We refer to those individuals as Patrons in the City, dedicating their time, sweat, and tears to building vibrant communities. We were eager to speak with John to learn more about his passion for community and how he serves as a Patron in the City.

Q: How has this project changed your community for the better?

John: Thanks to the generous funds raised by members of the New Haven community and matched by Sustainable CT, CCBW has been able to greatly increase its bicycle repair and recycling program to meet the enormous spike in transportation and recreation needs during COVID. In 2021, CCBW was able to expand its partnerships with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, Connecticut Mental Health Center, Project MORE, and other local organizations to match 108 members of our community (as of October, 2021) with a bike, helmet, lock, and lights! An additional 76 bikes have been donated to Bikes For Kids, our partner organization that expands our reach to other parts of Connecticut.

Bikes for Kids

Q: What inspired you to get involved or build this project?

John: The goal of the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op project was always to bring bikes to those who most need them. To do this, we relied on a steady stream of used bike donations, the incredible work and dedication of a large volunteer base, and the networks of trust from partner organizations. By founding CCBW, a nonprofit dedicated to the bike donation program, I hope to donate an even greater portion of the bikes that move through the co-op in the years ahead. The tragic inequalities exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic made the need to address structure transportation injustice in the New Haven area all the more apparent, and CCBW is delighted to be a part of trying to address those disparities.

Q: What was a challenge along the way that your Project Coach and Patronicity helped you to overcome?

John: The bike co-op has, since it began five years ago, been lucky enough to have incredible support from the community and has always reached people through word of mouth. This Patronicity fundraising campaign was the first time the co-op had the opportunity to tell its story to a wider audience and to ask them for their financial support. Camryn Greer and the Patronicity team were incredible guides in navigating this new terrain and helping to tell CCBW’s story to those who might never have heard of the program before.

If you are inspired by John’s story and The Connecticut Community Bicycle Workshop and live in the Connecticut area, you can donate bicycles or components to The Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op. Learn more about how to donate on their website.

A group of kids receiving bicycles.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

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