Wheel fun: Old West End Foundation offers bicycle co-opWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite Mother Nature’s refusal to recognize the arrival of spring, the Toledo City Bicycle Co-operative opened for the season March 27.
The co-op is a not-for-profit bicycle recycling shop run by volunteers, operating as part of the Old West End Foundation. The volunteers repair donated bikes and sell them to the community.
“Our main concern is helping less fortunate people who don’t have cars and keeping them moving as much as we can,” said Paul Vandersteen, education coordinator and mechanic. “We also try to promote bike use.”
The co-op offers basic tuneups for $25 and full tuneups for an additional charge. The shop also offers do-it-yourself repair for $5 per hour.
In addition to sales and repairs, the co-op offers education on bicycle upkeep through training courses, workshops and volunteer opportunities. Part of the group’s outreach is teaching a class through the Lucas County Juvenile Justice program. One of the co-op’s goals this year is to improve community outreach.
“We’re going to try to get with UT for the Earth Fest this year and possibly Owens as well,” Vandersteen said. “We’re trying to be more available at community functions. Our board was kind of disjointed the last couple of years. Now we have a solid group of people and we’re going to be able to do a lot more.”
The co-op operates in the basement of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at 2272 Collingwood Blvd., between Bancroft Street and Ashland Avenue. The entrance to the shop is on the south side of the building.
“We’re basically autonomous from the church, but they donate the space,” Vandersteen said. “Their motto is they welcome everyone. They have AA meetings and LGBT meetings. The pastor does a lot of long-distance rides, so they offered up the shop in the basement. We’re looking into other spaces, but I don’t think we’ll ever give up this space.”
The spaces they are looking into are part of a plan to further expand into Downtown Toledo.
“We’d like to move it to a storefront operation eventually, since there aren’t any bike shops near Downtown,” Vandersteen said. “We’d like to do an outreach to the East Side. We haven’t gotten that far yet … but now we have some staff in place.”
The co-op aims to be environmentally conscious by limiting the use of natural resources and reducing materials going into landfills.
“If we get bikes that are donated that don’t have any usable value, we dismantle them and they get recycled,” Vandersteen said.
“We also recycle tires as much as the city will let us. We try to keep as much out of the landfills as possible. We have a guy that takes a lot of our recycling, and he’ll bring in any bikes he finds when he’s out garbage picking and we’ll give him our leftover stuff in exchange.”
The co-op is open 4 to 7 p.m. on Sundays and 5 to 8 p.m. on Mondays. Customers can also call (419) 386-6090 to schedule another time when someone is available. For more information on volunteering, bike sales and bike repairs, visit www.ToledoBikeCoop.org.
By Jason Mack
Toledo Free Press Star Staff Writer