For Boulder residents who have yet to discover the joy of riding a bike on the community’s miles of beautiful trials or the satisfaction of avoiding rush hour traffic by riding a bike to and from work, meet Community Cycles.
From classes on how to fix and maintain bikes to selling restored used bikes, Community Cycles eliminates excuses, such as not having a bike or having one that is broken and dusty hanging in the garage, that prevent folks from using two-wheeled transportation more often.
Rich Points was in the Environmental Leadership master’s program at Naropa University when he started a bike shop as his community project with the assistance of Wanda Pelegrina Caldas in 2006, according to Alexey Davies, membership director for Community Cycles. Rich heads the organization as executive director, and Wanda remains active not only as a member and volunteer but as an avid bicyclist, as well, earning the honor of GO Boulder Commuter of the Year in 2006.
Alexey says he got took the part-time position with the nonprofit a year ago after being laid off from his engineering job of 27 years. He was a member of Community Cycles for a few years prior to, having depended on his bike for his primary mode of transportation when he wasn’t commuting 20 miles both ways to his job at 120th Avenue and I-25.
“I decided wanted to do something to benefit other people other than focusing on the bottom line,” he says of why he didn’t seek another job in the corporate world. “It’s been a great change, helping people.”
But because bicycling was already a big part of his life, Alexey says working for Community Cycles was a natural fit.
“My favorite recreation is riding a bike,” he says, noting he even owns a cargo bike for hauling groceries and loads, minimizing how often he needs to use a car. In fact, now that he doesn’t commute, he mainly uses his car for long road trips.
Since Rich founded the organization, it has grown into much more than a place to learn and practice the mechanics of bike repair.
With about 25 core volunteers and 100 or more occasional and special event volunteers who contributed 8,000 hours of their time and talents last year alone, the organization repairs and sells the used bikes donated to it – 1,500 bikes last year – in its store, providing low-income residents with the transportation needed to get a job.
“I want to say half of the households in Boulder have dropped off bikes to recycle,” Alexey says. The organization designated some of those bikes to the Earn-A-Bike program. Through that program, folks who can’t afford a bike but want one and to learn how to maintain it can volunteer 15 hours of their time to Community Cycles. In return, the participants take a class on how to tear down and rebuild a bike, then get to tear down and rebuild a bike they can keep.
Participants in this program must be 16 years old or older unless they have chaperone, but most of the 1,000 people who have enrolled in it at some point are in their 20s, Alexey says.
Community Cycles also provides bikes to children of needy families during its Kids Holiday Bike Giveaway in December. Approximately 275 children will receive bikes through this program this year, he says.
“There’s definitely large support in the community for the organization,” Alexey says, noting Community Cycles recently celebrated reaching 1,000 active members. “We have a fair pool of people who help.”
Not only can bicyclists learn how to fix and care for their bikes at Community Cycles, they can also learn how the rules of the road and how to commute or recreate on their bikes safely, he says.
For a $40 a year fee, Community Cycles members get access to the shop with tools and volunteers on hand to assist with repairs and maintenance; discounts on commuter goods and used bikes in its retail store; free or reduced admittance to workshops on repairing bikes, riding safely, how to commute on a bike, how to dress while riding in the winter, bike touring and more. Some classes are designated just for women, and bike trailers are also available to members. And members have the opportunity to support great programs and bicycling advocacy efforts, as well.
For those who can’t afford the fee, the organization offers a work trade in which they can volunteer time in the shop for membership benefits, Alexey says.
“There’s always something to do in the shop,” he notes.
And Community Cycles is also busy advocating bikes and, therefore, a more livable community, Alexey says.
“Bicycling just makes life better,” he says, noting the organization encourages local businesses to offer parking for bikes and promotes trail connections to make it easier for bicyclists to get around town.
“We spend a lot of time in meetings with the city, with the county,” he says.
Community Cycles is currently working with the city on the Safe Streets Boulder program, which encourages motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to practice safe travel behaviors. Its focus is to raise awareness of the responsibilities everyone has to each other on the roads, paths and walkways. As a result of the program, the city may institute new rules.
Community Cycles is also working to educate children about how to safely ride their bikes by offering bike clinics, Alexey says.
But he admits that not everyone – whether on a bike, in a vehicle or walking – will choose to learn or follow the traffic laws.
“You just need to be paying attention all the time,” Alexey says.
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