Recycling cycles in Chattanooga
Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010 8:05 pm
By PERLA TREVIZO
Times Free Press
CHATTANOOGA (AP) — For Zac Holford, learning how to fix bicycles is much more than just mechanics.
It’s a way to foster community development.
“Cycling is a very popular thing in that everyone in the population has a bicycle story, remembers when they had a bike (or) has had problems with bikes,” said Holford, 25.
“But its price of entry is often out of the means of a lot of people,” he added.
To make bicycles more affordable, the South Carolina native decided to implement an idea he first saw in Memphis a bike cooperative where, for $50 a year and 10 hours of volunteer work, people can build their own bikes or overhaul ones they already have.
The co-op recently opened its new location inside the St. Andrews Center in the Highland Park area. There’s a workshop and a storage room in the basement. It’s full of racked bicycles, wheels and boxes of chain rings, pedals and stems.
“Our main goal is to get as many educated cyclists on the road as we can with a real working knowledge of their bicycle,” Holford said. “With a bike and the bus system in this city, you can get anywhere you need to go cheaply and reliably.”
The group also wants to reach out to area Hispanics, he said, especially those who can’t drive.
The Main Street Bike Co-op also is collecting bikes, with plans to repair and give them away in August to about 20 area children who will be found through community organizations, Holford said.
Derek Williams joined the co-op several months ago when it was in its original location off Main Street.
“I basically rebuilt (my bike) by hand with Zac’s guidance, and that feels really good,” said the 34-year-old University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student who’s majoring in computer science applications.
“Not only because it’s going to incorporate the exercise aspect, (and) the transportation aspect with reduced gas usage, but that we took a non-working bicycle and basically rehabbed it and (refurbished) it from the ground up into a useful vehicle,” he said.
The co-op partners with local bicycle shops, where people can donate bicycles or parts, and with the Community Foundation, which established an account for the co-op to raise funds.
The St. Andrews Center is an organization and building that houses other nonprofit groups and educational programs.
“Having a presence of the bike co-op in the Highland Park area offers the opportunity for our neighbors to become more involved in their community by participating in weekly community bike-ride events,” said Michelle Hayes, director of operations for the St. Andrews Center.
Published in The Messenger 7.22.10