In a neighborhood ringing with vendors pushing carts and selling treats, Jorian Giorno pedals a different joyful fix.
The 26-year-old operates the newly launched Layton Boulevard West Neighbors Mobile Bike Hub, a rolling repair shop that mimics the paleteros and similar sellers who travel the area streets.
Throughout the summer, Giorno will travel from the Mitchell Park Domes to Miller Parkway, between West Pierce Street and Lincoln Avenue, and set up shop at schools and playgrounds. With the tools and parts stored in a hand-made work box, the bike mechanic can inflate tires, fix brakes, adjust shifters and make a bike safe to ride.
"I give people the ability to do what I enjoy most, be on their bicycles, out cruising around," Giorno said.
The inspiration for the mobile bike hub didn’t start with a vision of a street vendor, but with a quality of life plan based on the priorities of residents in the Layton Park, Burnham Park and Silver City neighborhoods. The work on the plan is part of the Zilber Family Foundation initiative for neighborhood improvement.
"We found out people were craving more activities and more biking in the neighborhood and having a healthy lifestyle," said Jezamil Vega-Skeels, a neighborhood planner with the Layton Boulevard West Neighbors.
She determined that repairing bicycles and teaching children how to ride them safely would fill that need perfectly, in an area adjacent to the Hank Aaron State Trail.
Vega-Skeels initially set out to build a bike repair center in an area school, but couldn’t find adequate space. A local principal suggested the mobile approach, and the idea clicked.
The neighborhood development group received a $15,000 grant from the Charles D. Jacobus Family Foundation and gathered input on the design from experts at Truly Spoken Cycles, Fyxation, the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin and DreamBikes. Mike Krajewski, a pattern maker at Falk Corp., volunteered to apply his vast trade skills and add a wooden cargo box to a Worksman tricycle.
Krajewski spent 100 hours cutting, shaping and welding, added sliding doors and hinges, and created the mobile bike hub unveiled on May 18, as part of the Bike Fiesta. It was an instant sensation, with kids chasing it down the street, much like they would the ice cream man.
"The response was how I imagined it when I was writing that first proposal," Vega-Skeels said. "It’s like a magnet. In two hours, they fixed 10 bikes right there.
"It’s one thing to write a proposal, but to see it and be a witness to what’s happening, it’s pretty cool."
Giorno plans to provide more than quick fixes.
He will teach the children who gather around him how to do their own repairs and how to bike safely. The hub will also serve as a gathering point to share information about the neighborhood, and provide a positive activity throughout the summer for the thousands of children in the Silver City, Burnham Park and Layton Park neighborhoods.
"I’m a mother too," Vega-Skeels said. "For me, this can go far in many ways. It’s a good template."
In his first outings, Giorno was the one who found instant gratification.
"Kids walked up, and something they thought was hopeless was resolved," he said. "I could probably do this forever."