The OCBC is a non-profit, volunteer-driven, cooperative bicycle education center. Our Earn A Bike program accepts donations of used bikes, which kids can earn by learning about bike repair and safe cycling. Surplus bikes are fully refurbished for sale or rent to support the organization. We also offer bike maintenance classes, shop-use membership, shop credit for volunteering, and the League of American Bicyclists' Bike Driver's Ed course. We are not a bike shop, and do not take drop-off bike repairs. (We do, however, offer a 15 minute, while you watch bike check-over). We also do not sell new bikes, clothes, shoes, or non-essential accessories. We encourage you come to the co-op to learn, and go to your local bike shop to buy!
Mission and purpose
The Ohio City Bicycle Co-op was founded with bicycle education as its primary activity, with the purpose of increasing bicycle use, as reflected in its incorporation filing:
"The mission of the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC) is to promote the use of bicycles in greater Cleveland and engage area youth and adults in cycling activities that foster independence, resourcefulness, and good health. The OCBC works to accomplish this by offering safe cycling and bike repair education, Earn A Bike programs, and a consumer's cooperative bike shop; by providing dependable used bikes and accessories; and by producing cycling events and tours that impart skills while encouraging riding for fun, fitness and practical transportation."
In 2006, to reflect a more direct focus gained with experience, the board approved this "working" mission statement: "Help people use bicycles as much as they can." We then briefly tried a modified version of that, "Help people use bicycles to improve their lives," but that seemed kind of presumptuous. So now, since brevity is desirable (or, short is sweet), when we have to give a mission statement we just say,
"we help people use bicycles."
In 1995 the Cleveland Area Bicycle Association began collecting used bicycles to create an Earn a Bike program as a service project for the cycling community. This culminated in a project that awarded bikes and helmets to thirty East Cleveland children, but ended when key volunteers moved out of the area.
In early 2001, two of the organizers of that effort returned to Cleveland and joined with several other concerned cyclists in creating a bike-recycling and education project that began with an Earn a Bike program in a small garage behind the Arrupe Community Center of St. Ignatius High School in the Ohio City neighborhood. For the next two cycling seasons, three of this original group would help area children twice a week to earn donated used bikes by learning to repair them, and riding together to learn safe cycling skills.
In the fall of 2002 the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC) was incorporated, and secured donation of a storefront on Lorain Avenue where it could expand this Earn A Bike program, renovate and sell surplus bikes to help cover expenses, and attract additional volunteers with an adult membership program that offered bike repair classes and shop use to the public. At this time OCBC also began to present Earn A Bike programs at schools and recreation centers as a fee service, and organized larger bike rides as fundraising events and for others, including the City of Cleveland. Being unsuccessful securing start-up grant funding, the organization operated entirely with volunteer labor, primarily from two of the founding members, one of whom began volunteering full-time in the beginning of 2003.
When the building on Lorain Avenue was sold in September 2003, the Co-op moved to its current, larger space in the Flats, where less street traffic greatly facilitated group riding, and a large amount of storage space eased management of the large volume of bicycle donations, now also coming from several area police departments.
2004 was a pivotal year for the OCBC: it received a favorable determination of 501(c)(3) non-profit status from the IRS; was awarded its first significant grant from the George Gund Foundation; hosted a three-day cycling instructor certification seminar (training ten local cyclists to teach the League of American Bicyclists “Bicycle Drivers' Ed” curriculum); and began teaching this riding program to adults, as well as in its Earn A Bike program, and to summer camp groups.
In 2005 the OCBC's full-time volunteer director was joined by a new member with extensive computer skills, who automated the membership program's volunteer-credit accounting system, overhauled the website, and began the group's transition from a volunteer co-op to an employee-staffed organization.
Before the cycling season began in 2006, the co-op completed a strategic planning process which re-structured the Earn A Bike program, streamlined the membership program, revised retail hours, and instituted a freewill-donation basis for its fund-raising events; freeing staff time for administrative work while improving services to members and the public. In the spring, bike education courses were presented to 400 children at Cleveland schools through a contract with the Steps to a Healthier Cleveland program, which was re-awarded and expanded in the fall.
The OCBC now has three full-time staff and over 150 adult members, about thirty of whom are regular volunteers, who, in 2006 alone, have rehabilitated more than five hundred bicycles, and diverted from the waste stream about five tons of steel and aluminum.
|< Prev||Next >|