Community Cycles recently became a recipient of a PEARL iZUMi GO Grant, funding that we set aside each year to support national and community-level groups seeking to make cycling more widespread. With our shared commitment to sustainability and using bikes as a force for good, we couldn’t think of a more deserving local partner. Read on for a more detailed look at how Community Cycles’ is shaping the broader Boulder community for the better.
The Mission: Reduce Impact, Build Community
Community Cycles was founded in 2006 with the mission of keeping bikes out of landfills but the concept has since grown to become a cornerstone of the Boulder cycling community. Today, the non-profit acts as Boulder County’s most committed player in making streets safer for bikes and expanding cycling infrastructure. The small-but-mighty Spruce Street HQ boasts an education-oriented DIY workshop, fully stocked with tools and overseen by mechanics, available to members to wrench on their own bikes. The organization also spearheads and supports numerous local events throughout the year, including the well-known Bike-to-Work Month, the B360 (a circle-Boulder-by-Bike festival), film screenings, and their annual membership party.
Community Cycles’ advocacy initiatives center on creating safer streets for cyclists, while promoting the idea of going by bike. Much of this work involves reviewing existing cycling and pedestrian infrastructure with a fine-tooth comb and making suggested improvements. Examples include making sure that sidewalks and/or bike paths connect in key areas, advocating for a covered bike shelter at the downtown bus station, and supporting protected bike lanes on main thoroughfares (lanes with more than a white line separating riders from traffic). In addition to such meticulous—but important—improvements, the organization also takes a more macro view and has seen several notable, larger scale projects come to life.
Recent wins like the implementation of 20mph is Plenty for residential streets is one example of how Community Cycles’ work has directly led to positive community impact. This safety measure provides more peace of mind to cyclists, pedestrians, and parents alike. But the non-profit doesn’t want to stop there. Community Cycles also wants council and funding to shift focus from neighborhood roads to major thoroughfares. Executive Director, Sue Prant, shared some insights into this process:
In an age where immediacy is emphasized, taking the long view for change is a worthwhile, if a (perhaps) unglamorous, pursuit but it is only through such steady, continued advocacy that real change happens. For this, we thank our hardworking friends at Community Cycles.
Community Cycles’ DIY Bike Shop is at the center of its education initiatives. It’s here that members can reserve a bike stand and gain access to the shop’s tools, parts and knowledgeable mechanics. The non-profit believes that learning to work on one’s own bike is an essential skill; not only can knowing even the basics save routine riders a lot of money, but developing a working knowledge of how to troubleshoot issues with one’s bike is fundamentally empowering. While employed mechanics are available during reservation-based work hours, the shop also offers a host of classes that provide more structured overviews, from Maintenance 101 to a Complete Mechanics series.
In the years since its inception, Community Cycles has stayed impressively committed to keeping bikes from becoming trash. Of the 3,600 hundred bikes donated to the non-profit in 2021, Community Cycles gave away 600 bikes, rebuilt and resold 1,000, and stripped the remaining of usable parts and recycled the frames—that’s a lot of repurposed metal.
The organization chooses various avenues for donation: 300 bikes were donated in December alone at their annual Kids Bike Giveaway and the rest went to such groups as individuals re-entering society following incarceration, victims of fire, refugees, and more.
The shop has a small team of mechanics who find creative (and economical) ways to update the donated, often out-dated, frames. Examples of their build transformations might include modernizing a 90s mountain bike into a fully rigid gravel bike (by today’s standards), to turning an XS road frame, designed around two different wheel sizes, into a cargo bike. Check out the account Community Rides to admire some of the shop’s most inventive builds.
Craig David, Community Cycles’ Development Director, summed up their vision for access best:
“What we are trying to do is put more people on bikes….When we pair accessibility and sustainability, that’s a closed loop model. If a bike is donated and we can’t use the frame, we still strip the parts and recycle the frame so nothing goes to waste. If you can give the bike, (equipment, shoes or clothes) a second life, we’re reducing the impact number one, but number two, we’re bridging that gap between somebody who may not have ridden and someone else who has all this gear in their garage and doesn’t know what to do with it. We can be that real balanced equalizer.”
As part of this pursuit in getting more people on bikes, the non-profit sees a real need for e-bikes, especially among low-income, essential workers, as a reliable, lower-impact source of transportation. To achieve this, Community Cycles has partnered with Boulder BCycle to “bring free BCycle passes to low income workers, especially those who participate in low income, affordable or subsidized programs.” The organization is also currently working on a proposal to present to the state legislature that would subsidize e-bike purchases for select demographic sectors.
Bike to Work Month
June is Bike to Work Month—a state-wide initiative to encourage more people to get out on their bikes, whether that’s commuting, training or casual spinning. Since 1976, the month-long rallying cry has culminated in Boulder in Bike to Work Day, where everyone is encouraged to leave the car behind and ride there—to work, school, or wherever life takes you on the day. Community Cycles, PEARL iZUMi and a host of other generous businesses will provide stations, stocked with coffee, breakfast goodies, and other treats, for riders to stop at on their commute in. Take five extra minutes to play your route and you can find enough stops to bank a few extra burritos for later in the day. We hope to see you out there—pledge to ride, sign up for the Work Place challenge (to encourage your colleagues to ride, too), or register to provide a station HERE.
Cover Photo: Josh Uhl