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History of OCBC

History of OCBC

In the spring of 2001, in a small garage behind the Arrupe community center in the Ohio City neighborhood, a volunteer group of cyclists began an informal Earn A Bike program, teaching neighborhood kids bike repair and safe riding skills, to directly promote cycling as a healthy, economical form of transportation and recreation. In 2002, incorporated as the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC), the group secured donation of a storefront on Lorain Avenue where it could renovate and sell its surplus of donated used bikes to cover expenses, and started a membership program to attract additional volunteers.

When the building on Lorain was sold in September 2003 the Co-op moved to a larger space on Columbus Road, where, still run with an all-volunteer staff, it continues to provide drop-in Earn A Bike and adult membership services, and is developing related activities, such as bike rentals and tours. Over this time the OCBC has also significantly expanded its Earn A Bike program, and is now teaching courses at schools and recreation centers, primarily on a fee-for-service basis.

These off-site Earn A Bike courses are at the core of the OCBC's mission, for several reasons:

  • They efficiently provide children with direct benefits in terms of safety, fitness, and self-esteem. In every class, students learn maintenance and riding tips that are useful, fun, and empowering; they're motivated to be vigorously active in safe, supportive, group rides; and they enjoy immediate, tangible benefits from following direction, working together, and doing their best.
  • By leveraging students' familiarity with the client organization's environment and staff, they maximize the above benefits for kids who may be "at-risk" — and minimize disruptions for others — thus narrowing the responsibilities of OCBC instructors, which widens the pool of potential volunteers.
  • The courses' focused but flexible structure provide educators a hands-on, contextual way to relate math, science, history, citizenship, language, and health concepts to their existing curricula, while economically expanding their students' physical education opportunities.
  • The long term goal of this program is to offer Earn A Bike courses as widely as possible, yet with enough depth to enable motivated staff members to develop their organizations' own Earn A Bike programs, with OCBC support eventually tapered to providing technical support, bicycles of assured quality, and advancement opportunities for their Earn A Bike graduates. By increasing our capacity to provide a paid service with a proven demand, and then empowering client organizations to sustain this effective work largely on their own, we seek to expand the impact of this program as we reduce our future need for outside funding.

In the very long term, and much less tangibly, it is also hoped that this program may help improve the safety and viability of widespread cycling in general - for the many societal benefits it can bring — by giving at least some members of the next generation of road users an empathetic understanding of cyclists' needs and legal rights, even if they don't all become avid transportation cyclists themselves.

Created by: pgarver. Last Modification: Friday 20 of January, 2006 19:07:07 UTC by pgarver.