Most people own a bicycle, but few know how to repair it. They’ll get a chance to learn, and perhaps even earn one of their own if they don’t have one, with a new volunteer program in Schenectady called Electric City Bike Rescue. It’s the kind of effort worth being involved in and supporting.
The word “rescue” in the group’s name refers to the part of its mission that goes beyond teaching kids and adults the art of bicycle maintenance and repair. It is to keep abandoned, broken-down bikes out of landfills by fixing them up with old parts and redistributing them for use in the community.
This isn’t a new idea around the country, or even the Capital Region. Troy, Albany and Saratoga all have such programs, and they’ve outgrown their original space. Schenectady’s is housed in space generously provided by the Edison Tech Center on Broadway (the Gazette’s old press building), where it has been meeting Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. since early February.
The group is still getting organized, but has some bikes and parts (donated by the Albany and Troy rescues) and will soon start holding lessons and repair sessions. It is also seeking volunteers, donations of bikes and parts, and funding to buy such things as bike tools, tubes and cables.
Saving a bike is good for the environment, which is why the Environmental Clearinghouse of Schenectady is supporting the group and has helped it arrange bike collection events on Earth Day at the Mabee Farm and Central Park.
Learning how to care for a bike in a supportive setting is empowering, for adults as well as kids. Not only are they doing something socially useful, they’re getting a useful skill that will allow them to help themselves and others, and could even lead to a job.
Donate a bike, fix a bike, and then go out and ride one. It feels good.