Bicycling through MLK Day of Service in Cleveland

By Rebecca McDaniel-Hutchings on January 22, 2014 in AmeriCorps

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Team Cleveland volunteered with the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op on Martin Luther King Day. The Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC) is a volunteer-driven, cooperative, non-profit, bicycle education center. Began in 2001, OCBC provides bicycle education such as traffic skills, road safety, and bike maintenance, as well as producing cycling events. It also works with many Cleveland schools, providing bicycles for different riding programs.

The OCBC also collects donations of old bicycles in any state of repair in order to keep the usable and recyclable parts from going to the landfill. The bikes are repaired and sold in the cooperative bike shop, however many are earned by volunteers. In this Earn a Bike program, OCBC volunteers log their hours and earn points that they can use in the bike shop. They can trade in fewer points for a bike that still needs a lot of repair and take the offered classes on bike repair to fix it themselves or trade in a larger number of points for an entirely repaired bicycle from the shop.

Team Cleveland was able to assist the bike co-op with erecting some bicycle racks for storage, cleaning and lubricating bicycles, and sorting through bike spokes. We were the only volunteer group dedicating our whole day to the project, so we got to take on some leadership roles and taught other volunteer groups what projects needed to be done and how to go about doing them. I enjoyed the mechanical labor of moving bikes back and forth and the large amount practical knowledge we gained about bicycles just in the one day that we were with OCBC.

At the beginning of the day, when we were instructed about the day’s project list and saw the amount of bicycles that needed to be moved in order to erect the racks, it was a little daunting. However, with the number of volunteers that OCBC had recruited we were able to accomplish tasks quickly.

It was clear that the bike co-op badly needed the organization that the bike racks provided, as well as the other cleaning and sorting tasks we were able to accomplish. It felt good to know that the work we were able to do in one day saved the OCBC multiple days of busy work. Our projects were not direct service to the folks using the bike co-op’s services, but we were able to support the OCBC staff, so they have more time to implement their meaningful work.

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