Our Community Bikes lives up to its name, using the power of bikes to bring community together. They offer low-cost bikes and bike parts, bike repair, and hold inclusive workshops to help people build the skills to repair and ride their bikes.
I spoke with Executive Director, Sophia Suderman.
How do bikes build community?
Sophia: Bikes build community in a number of ways. Owning a bike allows a person to travel further and more autonomously so they can more easily access their network of personal support and increase social participation within the broader community. It also provides a pathway to participate in the local bike community through group rides and involvement in community bike shops.
How have you seen access to bikes change peoples’ lives?
Sophia: Personal mobility is closely tied to economic mobility. Lack of access to safe and reliable transportation disproportionately affects underrepresented people and further marginalizes populations through factors like lost employment, community engagement, or health and wellness opportunities.
We hear a lot of stories of how having a bike allows people to move beyond their current situation. Last year, after receiving a bike from us, one of our recipients was able to secure a part time job, make friends, secure housing, and their addiction is now in remission. Obviously, there are other factors at play, but giving them a bike removed many barriers that were previously in their way.
In addition to the work Our Community Bikes does, what else do you think should be done to improve access to bikes?
Sophia: There are many different factors that contribute to whether or not someone will use a bike to get around. Education on basic bike maintenance and riding will give people the tools and confidence to maintain access to bike and be out on the road.
The better and more connected that local cycling infrastructure is, the more that people feel safe to use their bikes to get around. Increased options for storage and secure places to lock bikes makes cycling to work or run errands more practical.
The more programming is out there through community shops, organizations like Hub, in schools and other outreach, the more we can meet people where they are at and support them to remove whatever barriers are in the way.
How can people support Our Community Bikes?
There are many ways to support this work. You could support the not-for-profit shop with your business, donate previously loved bikes and parts, become a monthly donor, or sign up to volunteer.
Any upcoming events people should know about?
Sophia: Yes! There is so much going on! Womens Trans Queer nights are coming up Sept 7&21 7:30-9:30pm, DIY nights are every Satruday eve & Sept 28 from 7:30-9:30pm, we have a Deaf Access night Sept 20th 6:30-9:30pm, and youth can drop by for Bike Club every Tuesday from 4pm-6pm.
Learn more about Our Community Bikes