Recycle-A-Bike lends fresh life to tired wheels
BY NINA MAMIKUNIAN
In the basement of Trinity United Methodist Church on Broad
Street in Providence are five workstations, five toolsets, and a sign on the
door that reads, "Remember, you are the doctor and the bike is your patient."
The countless parts, tires, and bicycles in various stages of repair and
disrepair have been donated by the Providence Police Department, the US Justice
Department, Ron's Bike Shop, and Concerned Citizens of North Providence, among
others. They are being refurbished by Recycle-A-Bike to be redistributed near
Recycle-A-Bike began about a year ago when members of the Providence faction
of Critical Mass, the activist happening that promotes bicycling with
in-your-face tactics, realized that many of those showing up for rides couldn't
take part since their bikes were in such poor condition. Coordinators Mary
Hastings and Neal Walsh recognized the need for a free space where members of
the community could learn about basic bike maintenance and safety. As part of
the effort, Recycle-A-Bike hosts five-week programs for adults and children;
workshops in which four hours of volunteer service earns participants a free
bike; and the tools, parts, space and knowledge to spread comprehensive
learning about bike maintenance and repair.
Recycle-A-Bike sponsors bike outreach programs to reintroduce rehabilitated
bikes into the community. Volunteers work with the Federal Hill House
Association to distribute bikes during the holidays. Inspired by Bikes Not
Bombs in Boston, Recycle-A-Bike is also working with the Sabre Foundation --
which distributes books and educational materials in Eastern Europe and Africa
-- to send a 40-foot container filled with books and 50 bikes to Liberia.
Recycle-A-Bike is interested in encompassing as many communities as possible.
There are future plans to start a women's-only night and to hold classes in
Spanish. Organizers hope for the entire program to eventually become bilingual.
They also want to connect with a wider audience. Hastings plans to travel from
state to state this winter, checking out bike communities and developing lines
of communication between them. Then it's off to Europe to investigate the
bicycle culture there and create more contacts.
Recycle-A-Bike is funded through the West End Renewal Fund, the United Way of
Southeastern New England, and philanthropists Kim and Liz Chace. The program
operates under Trinity Encore, a non-profit organization that supports
community outreach programs. Recycle-A-Bike also holds auctions to sell antique
and art bikes.
Their last fundraiser, at Julian's on Broadway, raised about $1500 to help
restock Recycle-A-Bike's supplies. The group has developed a committed crew of
about 12 steady volunteers who maintain a comfortable atmosphere dedicated to
learning and asking questions. Eight people form the organizing bike
collective, including coordinators, mechanics, teachers and all-around
volunteers with a variety of skills and levels of experience. Recycle-A-Bike is
always looking for more people with bike knowledge, teaching experience, or an
interest in the fine art of bicycling. To find out more, call (401) 454-5865.
Issue Date: November 22 - 28, 2002