Building Unity One Bike at a Time

Connecting people and bicycles.

It’s Monday morning in Providence. The small Olneyville storefront that’s home to Recycle-A-Bike is starting to attract the curiosity of people passing on the street. As they peer through the large plate-glass windows, cupping their hands for a better view, they see teenagers spread out across the shop, working on bicycles in different stages of repair. Inside, the smell of chain oil hangs low in the air and the steady clank of pedal wrenches tightening chrome-plated nuts fills the room. An assortment of ten-speeds and mountain bikes hang in a single row along the wall, their front tires perfectly aligned.

The teenagers are participating in an internship program, the result of a partnership between The Met School and the Providence-based nonprofit. The students learn the craft of bicycle refurbishing, maintenance, and troubleshooting under the guidance of a certified teacher-mechanic. These skills prepare them for future employment in the growing bicycle repair industry.

Recycle-A-Bike also offers workshops that are open to the public — including a six-session course teaching people how to properly service their bicycles. In addition, the nonprofit hosts Open Shop every Tuesday and Saturday; during this time, community members have full access to the shop’s bike stands, specialized tools, and the staff’s expertise.

This unique bike shop opened their doors in 2011 with the mission of “Educating, empowering, and building community by connecting people and bicycles.” Through teaching, Recycle-A-Bike hopes to foster a sense of unity by helping people to “believe in themselves and their community.” Whether it’s reaching out to Rhode Island’s youth or opening its doors to the community, this small nonprofit continues to have a big impact on the people they serve.


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By: Jason Boulay, Communication Coordinator, UWRI