Recycle-A-Bike is helping the community refurbish and access bikes, but it will close without help

PROVIDENCE — Surrounded by refurbished bikes, restore stands, components, helmets, tires and interior tubes, volunteer Michael Round solutions the telephones for Recycle-A-Bike, the nonprofit bike group profitable Olneyville.

As the entrance door bell rings, two ladies herald an orange seven-speed Schwinn bicycle. The rear brake would not work, but in any other case appears like it wants little restore, Round says. There are a whole bunch like this in an enormous basement under the retailer, with donations pouring in week after week.

For 13 years, Recycle-A-Bike has been selling biking as a enjoyable, secure, sustainable and stimulating mode of transportation. It additionally means educating individuals tips on how to repair their very own bikes, refurbishing donated bikes to allow them to experience once more, and helping individuals access free transportation.

But in 2020, as the pandemic raged, shops closed and individuals shifted from working in individual to working from dwelling, the Olneyville-based nonprofit misplaced key employees, together with its govt director, key volunteers and board members. In complete, they misplaced 70% of paid and unpaid employees.

“It left us in a tough spot,” chairman John Olivo mentioned. “As of now, we’ve been trying to navigate and call out to the community for some time for help.”

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Mechanics at work at Recycle-A-Bike, Olneyville’s nonprofit bicycle group searching for board members and different volunteers to help the busy company regain its footing after losses employees associated to the pandemic.

The nonprofit wants new board members, together with a treasurer, an outreach and community relations individual, and two program improvement individuals. Without an inflow of board members, the retailer will close in October, Olivo mentioned.

“We need people on the management side who can equip the community for the long term,” he mentioned.

The group wants board members who “have professional experience behind them” to take an thought from inception to execution. Too many good concepts and the to-do checklist turns into “gigantic”, says Olivo.

Round, a volunteer and board member, is one in every of the few individuals to go undercover since the group misplaced most of its members.

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Recycle-A-Bike volunteer Michael Round works on a Schwinn bicycle donated to the nonprofit to be repaired and sold.

Recycle-A-Bike volunteer Michael Round works on a Schwinn bicycle donated to the nonprofit to be repaired and bought.

Round mentioned he owns a motorcycle store, so volunteering at one is simple work and it will get him out of the home. As one in every of the individuals who open the store, he tries to help the place he can with repairs. Many days all the stalls in the retailer are full of individuals attempting to work on their very own bikes with the instruments from the retailer.

Advice wanted to run the group

If sufficient certified individuals be a part of the Recycle-A-Bike Board of Directors, they will have to help run the group in the quick time period, as the long term plan is to discover a new CEO.

After the group posted on Instagram, calling for brand new board members and volunteers, a number of candidates surfaced, but not sufficient to maintain it alive. The “key type” of individuals they need to entice are these in excessive demand, he mentioned.

In addition to the basic supervisor, the council wants a number of individuals with particular expertise for the council, in addition to volunteer lecturers and individuals to handle the workshop.

Among these board positions are openings for 2 people with expertise in training and program improvement. That means individuals have to increase the group’s academic programming, like the workshop for highschool college students to turn into bike connoisseurs or the program to show individuals tips on how to refurbish their very own bikes.

The band additionally wants somebody to interact with the community and handle their social media platforms.

“If we can’t find the right people, we’re going to have to shut down,” Olivo mentioned.

Interested in volunteering?

Anyone considering becoming a member of the Recycle-A-Bike board or volunteering for the group can contact Olivo at

The board is searching for two program improvement members, a treasurer, and a community relations/outreach member.

The group additionally accepts bicycle donations and will be reached at (401) 525-1822


Teachers first, mechanics second

One of the fundamental roles that the group has to satisfy is that of lecturers for its youth applications. For the previous few years, the program has allowed highschool college students to take an eight- to 12-week course on bikes, from upkeep to secure using. The final time the program handed via city was in the spring of 2021.

“At the end, the teachers were saying these people could get jobs in a bike shop, some as mechanics and all as skilled sales people,” Olivo mentioned.

The most up-to-date program, a six-week “Know Your Multi-Tool” course, helped individuals learn to repair widespread issues on the highway utilizing a small device package.

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Another program that has been sidelined on account of the abandonment of expert volunteers is the build-a-bike program, the place, over a 12-week interval, members dismantle a dilapidated bike and put it again collectively higher than earlier than. .

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Recycle-A-Bike posts its shop rules on the wall for everyone to see.

Recycle-A-Bike posts its store guidelines on the wall for everybody to see.

Before the pandemic, the group held three to 4 applications a yr, for months at a time. Now they will get one to 2 a yr in the event that they’re fortunate, he mentioned.

“I always say teacher skills are the first priority, and being a mechanic is second,” he mentioned.

Return donated bikes to the community

While one in every of Recycle-A-Bike’s fundamental objectives is to teach youngsters and adults about the joys of biking, bike security and mechanics, the group additionally runs a showcase in Olneyville at 1911 Westminster St. , the place they promote refurbished bikes which have been donated.

They additionally run a tool-sharing program and store, to help preserve the bikes and educate the public.

The store is at the moment open from 5 p.m. to eight p.m. on Tuesday, from 3 p.m. to six p.m. on Thursday and from 10 a.m. to three p.m. on Saturday. There is additionally a community workbench out there for individuals who need to do their very own bike upkeep and restore.

The group additionally gives free bicycles to youngsters.

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Contact journalist Wheeler Cowperthwaite at or observe him on Twitter @WheelerReporter.

This article initially appeared on The Providence Journal: RI Recycle-A-Bike May Have To Shut Down After Pandemic Staff Losses

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