Oberlin Bike Co-op
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154 North Main St. (Ohio Rt. 58) Oberlin, OH 44074
The Oberlin Bike Co-op is a cooperatively run bicycle repair, rental, and education center serving Oberlin, Ohio. The project began in 1986.
The goal of the Oberlin Bicycle Co-Op is to serve the needs of the overlapping communities of students and townspeople of Oberlin, Ohio. This is achieved through programming chosen by the elected presidents of the Cooperative towards the end of the Spring Semester. Historically such programming has included: bicycle safety rodeo, earn-a-bike programs with local youth, welding with youths, general bicycle repair, maintaining the rental fleet, organizing local rides, building floats for the Oberlin Big Parade and teaching other mechanics basic bicycle skills. The goals of the different programs have been met either through volunteer work or through the student run college courses known as ExCos.
Programming and leadership at the coop has historically been divided into two segments, the regular school year and the summer season. The Oberlin Bicycle Coop is a community oriented bicycle center, but it is also a student organization that is governed, in part, by the rules of the Oberlin College. Accordingly, at the end of the Spring Semester the membership (all of the volunteer) cast a ballot to elect the upcoming years presidents. Two members are elected president. Their responsibilities include overseeing programming for the upcoming year, fulfilling any requirements laid out in the Oberlin College Student Charter, organizing the repair schedule, organizing the shop layout and renovations, managing and purchasing inventory, financial accounting and electing the summer season staff. The title of president is not a paid position.
The person elected to oversee summer programming is provided with a small living stipend and is paid by the Oberlin College. Typically summer programming includes a summer camp for 5-15 local youths as well as regularly scheduled evening repairs.
The Bike Coop provides its volunteers with basic bicycle skills and the tools for organizing greater social change. Mechanics who have volunteered at the Bike Coop have gone on to achieve many great successes, including starting other Bike Coops, founding community organizations and not for profits, and starting bicycle shops. Examples of Oberlin Bike Coop graduates include the Cleveleand Bicycle Cooperative, Sustainable Community Associates, Third Ward Bikes (Houston, TX), the Bike Kitchen (San Francisco, CA) & Box Dog Bikes (San Francisco, CA). Many other mechanics have learned from their volunteer positions and continued on with other non-bicycle youth-oriented work.
As the Bike Coop is largely a student organization, the particulars of its composition and its direction will change year to year. With strong leaders and dedicated volunteers, it is a vital center of knowledge, education, social happenings and fun. Without strong leaders and dedicated volunteers, its nothing but a pile of rusty spokes and deflated tubes.