Ann Arbor cycling education nonprofit finds permanent home, expands programming

After eight years of offering pop-up bicycle repair services at Ann Arbor's Kerrytown Artisan Market and other locations, the nonprofit Common Cycle is establishing a permanent home.

 

An earn-a-bike program for kids, repair nights for local bicycle clubs, and free access to bike maintenance tools and advice are just a few of the plans Common Cycle has for its new space at 416 W. Huron St. in Ann Arbor. The nonprofit held a grand opening for the new space July 29.

 

Common Cycle started as a mobile bicycle co-op in 2010. It's best known for its mobile repair stand at Ann Arbor's Kerrytown Artisan Market, which helps teach over 250 riders a year to repair and maintain their bicycles.

 

Common Cycle board member Nate Phipps says the nonprofit will continue hosting events at satellite locations in the community as it has always done, but having a fixed residence increases efficiency. For instance, packing and unpacking supplies and transportation for the mobile repair stand took an additional two to four person-hours beyond the time spent at the market, and tools weren't available to interested parties outside those hours.

 

"The tools just sat dormant the rest of the week, and that pained us a lot," Phipps says.

 

Common Cycle currently runs a program for women, femme, and trans cyclists about once a month and will be able to expand that programming in the new space. Katie Honoway began volunteering for Common Cycle after attending one of those programs and now intends to co-teach them every other week with another volunteer, Jayanthi Reddy.

 

"Sometimes we'll have a focus, like brakes or adjusting the cable housing, and other times, it'll just be open," Honoway says. She says it's important to have positive female role models in a male-dominated sport and to "support women and girls in self-sufficiency."

 

Phipps says Common Cycle will also have a "bicycle library of sorts."

 

"You will be able to rent a bike for six months for as little as a $100 deposit, and then you'd get the majority, $75, back," he says. "Or you can keep the bike, and you've purchased a nice, refurbished bike for $100."

 

Phipps is most excited about the earn-a-bike program. Kids will have to put in "sweat equity," learning to break a bike down to parts and then rebuild it, replacing any worn parts if necessary.

 

"They'd leave the shop at the end of a multi-week program with the bike they rebuilt, a helmet, a lock, and lights to get them started," Phipps says.

 

Program details have yet to be ironed out, and Phipps says Common Cycle is looking for a community partner to help finance and run the program.

 

Common Cycle has always had very few overhead expenses, so the nonprofit is in fundraising mode through August and is currently running a funding match campaign. A small pool of donors has raised $9,000 that will only be activated if the community donates a matching $9,000, Phipps says.

 

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

 

Photos courtesy of Common Cycle.

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