The ReCYCLEry, a nonprofit bike shop based in Carrboro, is working to make cycling more accessible for all citizens.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro are the most bicycle-friendly communities in North Carolina as both have silver-level ratings according to The League of American Bicyclists. Although the league has a gold level, no town or city in North Carolina has reached this ranking.
“The most recent data we have tells us that in both Carrboro and Chapel Hill, people choose to ride bicycles to get around and run errands, commute to work and school at a higher rate than they do in some other communities,” Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils said.
The ReCYCLEry is operated by volunteers who teach bike maintenance classes, educate the community about safe cycling and refurbish unused bikes.
Ricky Pimentel, a UNC graduate student, is on the ReCYCLEry’s board of directors, composed of volunteers involved in the local cycling community.
“The ReCYCLEry is a nonprofit community bike shop that seeks to increase the use of bicycles for transportation and recreation,” Pimentel said. “We basically just repurpose bikes that are no longer being used so that they can be ridden and anyone in the community can have access to a bicycle.”
Pimentel said the organization is overrun with requests from people who are interested in getting involved. Individuals can earn a free bike if they volunteer to fix and refurbish one of the bikes donated to the ReCYCLEry.
The organization has no membership costs, and the ReCYCLEry does not make customers pay for basic repair parts. Their goal is to encourage cycling, whether it is for recreation or transportation, and foster an inclusive community.
Seils said the ReCYCLEry’s mission is to make cycling an option for everyone. To accomplish this, he said the organization provides bikes to people who cannot afford them otherwise.
The ReCYCLEry works with other local cycling organizations to bring a sense of advocacy and accessibility to biking.
Tamara Sanders has partnered with the ReCYCLEry and is the manager of Back Alley Bikes, a bike shop in Carrboro. She is also on the board of the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition, an organization that works to build a network of cyclists in Carrboro.
“It’s a wonderful service that they provide the community,” Sanders said.
Pimentel said one of the best parts of volunteering at the ReCYCLEry is teaching people about bike maintenance because they learn how to take care of mechanical issues.
“I think the best part is when you can spend some time with someone one on one and show them, ‘This is how the brakes work,’” Pimentel said. “You have a sense of joy and accomplishment of do it yourself and fixing something up yourself and learning how it works and then being able to ride it.”
The ReCYCLEry also sponsors public bike rides. Often, these rides are organized to raise awareness for certain causes — one of the recent rides, for example, raised money for climate action.
Sanders said the organization participates in a semi-regular full moon ride with Queer Ride Carrboro, which encourages solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community.
Whether it is through public rides or bike maintenance classes, Pimentel said the ReCYCLEry strives to expand Carrboro’s cyclist community with an emphasis on inclusivity.
“The main thing is just getting people out on bikes and recognizing that this is a healthy activity,” Pimentel said. “It's also a sustainable way to provide transportation around town, so, all the great ways to ride a bike. There's many different reasons and we love it no matter what your reason is.”
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