Communicycle, a program initiated in Clarkston through a bike safety and education effort, works to promote cycling as a sustainable form of transportation and a good source of exercise.
Communicycle Clarkston was inspired by a group in Chamblee who originally formed the organization. According to Clarkston Community Center Executive Director McKenzie Wren, in 2013 the organizers handed the Communicycle program off to Clarkston.
Soon after, with the help of volunteers, Communicycle officials began repairing bikes, donating bikes and teaching people basic bicycle repair and maintenance skills.
Wren added, “Part of the way that Communicycle is sustainable is that people donate bicycles to us.
We repair them and then we resell them at $35 to community members and whomever. We also give away a lot of children’s bikes just because it’s so important to have children riding bicycles.”
However, volunteers and funding became a problem for the organization.
Wren said, “We always knew it was something that could be amazing but we didn’t have the funds to support it. We didn’t have volunteers who were able to really commit to it.”
In 2012, Clarkston was selected to receive funding through the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Last Mile Connectivity Program, which focuses on projects and programs related to non-motorized transportation.
In March 2015, Clarkston City Council advertised a request for proposal for a program that would assist underserved children with an understanding of safe bicycle operation in an urban setting, while simultaneously offering training in tangible life long skills related to bicycling.
Comminicycle won the bid. The organization received $90,000 which helped secure full-time staff to operate the business.
Communicycle officials hired a coordinator, community educator and started a mobile bike shop that visits local apartment complexes and sets up on location for several hours on weekends to allow people to use their tools and volunteers to provide free basic bike-repair services.
Recreation coordinator Shakir Shakir said, “People are really happy and thankful for our training. I see them in the streets, they’re wearing helmets, they’re using their hands to signal. Before the training they didn’t know if they could ride their bikes on the street or on the trail only.”
He added, “That’s why we give them advice and training. We want to keep them safe and help them ride safely in the streets with cars and stay protected.”
Bikes can be purchased for less than $30 through Communicycle. Wren said, “They may need a little work” but volunteers assist people in diagnosing problems, finding used for those that need to be replaced.
“As both a low-income community and a community where a lot of folks are coming from countries where biking is really common, there are a lot of people who cycle. It’s incredibly important for people to get access to safe bicycles and to learn how to ride them safely,” Wren said.
Earlier this year, the city of Clarkston and the Clarkston Community Center partnered with The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to try an open streets initiative, to give residents and supporters the chance to experience biking and walking on streets where they might normally feel unsafe outside of a car.
Wren said, “We’ve been really trying to raise the message on how to ride bicycles safely in the U.S.”
She added, “We were all pleased with the event and see a lot of great potential in building on what we have learned and do it again sometime in 2016.”
Wren said the organization is seeking partnerships and sponsors for the next open streets event.
The organization is always collecting bike and helmet donations.
Wren said, “Supporting cycling is good on so many levels–environmentally, physically, spiritually—you name it. Bicycling is an excellent thing to focus on and really when you donate to the program know that it’s going to an incredible cause.”
For additional information on how to donate, volunteer or sponsor at Communicycle, email email@example.com.
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