By Vanessa Miali | CNA Media Team
Cycle, spin, roll or glide to the Community Cycling Center, 1700 N.E. Alberta St., and help celebrate its 25th anniversary this month.
Community Cycling Center’s decades of success was built on the vision of broadening access to bicycling and the benefits bicycling offers all people.
The nonprofit was founded by experienced bike mechanic and Concordian Brian Lacy. He wanted to teach children how to fix their own bikes to empower them and help them to teach others.
“Bicycling, recycling and volunteerism is a magical combination that has helped us earn 25 years of the public’s support,” said Kasandra Griffin, executive director. “We see bikes as a vehicle for empowerment and a tool for change.”
“We have been working and evolving to make biking more welcoming and affordable to diverse audiences,” she said. “We’re one of the longest standing businesses on Alberta Street.”
The center now receives more than 1,000 bike donations per year, has 500-plus volunteers repairing and recycling bicycles, and it hosts a yearly holiday bike drive.
Individuals and government supporters provide scholarships for eligible students in the cycling center’s summer bike camps.
Other programs include after-school bike clubs, bike safety training, and mechanics classes in science technology engineering and math – known as STEM in academic circles. Since 2012, the center also operates the HUB in north Portland, a free bike repair service open twice per week May-September.
The first Tuesday of every month a volunteer orientation is offered at the Alberta shop. No prior experience is necessary. Volunteers learn how to clean and refurbish children’s bikes to donate to families with low incomes.
“We have a great team of volunteers trained to assess the bikes for repair, and we recycle what can’t be used,” Kasandra said.
Each year the nonprofit recycles nearly 30,000 pounds of metal and 7,000 pounds of rubber while putting hundreds of useable bicycles back on the road.
In recent years, the center has focused on asking how it can serve the communities, according to Kasandra.
“What we found was that some people wanted help organizing self-directed groups, rides and activism while other community members wanted affordable bike repair and safe bike storage outside of their apartments. “We have tried to help with all of those things.”
June 22 the Community Cycling Center will celebrate its anniversary with a Quarter Century Bike Ride that ends in a park with a celebration and barbecue.
Stay tuned for event details at CommunityCyclingCenter.org/events.
Vanessa Miali has lived in Concordia for 18 years. She is a former public relations professional with two kids who cooks every day and gardens occasionally.