Donated bikes get a second life at Vancouver's Our Community Bikes

Nov 8 2021, 10:57 pm

Made in Vancouver is a collaboration between Vancity and Daily Hive. Together, we’re turning the spotlight onto local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are helping to create a healthy local economy.

Our Community Bikes views the bicycle as a tool for social change.

The non-profit social enterprise offers full-service repairs, new and used parts, refurbished bikes, and educational opportunities from their location at Main and Broadway in Vancouver.

Vancity has been supporting people in our communities since 1946, like local entrepreneurs. As part of our Made in Vancouver series spotlighting local businesses, we talked to Sophia Suderman, executive director of Our Community Bikes, about their initiatives, inspirations, and hopes for the future. Learn more about what Vancity is doing in your community at 

Our Community Bikes isn’t a normal bike shop, it’s a cool bike shop. 

Rather than selling brand new, state-of-the-art bicycles, Our Community Bikes was created to remove used bikes from the waste stream through recycling or refurbishment and make these bikes and bicycle repair facilities available at prices accessible to those facing financial barriers.

The team at the shop knows that owning a bike can make a huge difference in a person’s life, and work towards ensuring that everyone has access to a bike as sustainable transportation. 

In addition to supplying bicycles, Our Community Bikes provides community programming like Bike Club, a youth drop-in program, Women Trans Queer Nights, Gear-Up bicycle mechanic employment training with the YWCA, Pedals for the People free bike and subsidy program, Oppenheimer Park Bike Repair Clinics, and educational workshops.

For many people, access to bicycles is a sustainable, independent means to access employment, social services and their personal support networks,” explained Sophia Suderman, executive director of Our Community Bikes.

“It provides relief from depending on transit schedules, partners, or family members, without the cost of car ownership. It creates the opportunity to make exercise a part of a daily routine instead of an additional cost or chore.”

She believes that by teaching core bike mechanical skills, people can have increased self-confidence and expanded opportunities.

“Developing a passion for cycling also includes them in the cycling community, as they can come to the space to meet like-minded people and develop social connections based on a healthy mutual interest.”

Our Community Bikes is currently mostly run by donations from dedicated supporters. 40% of bikes donated are given to people facing financial barriers, and the profits from the social enterprise fund community programming.

“Bikes are refurbished, providing training opportunities to new mechanics underrepresented in the field such as at-risk youth, and skill-building opportunities for volunteers. Profits fund programs — it’s a win whichever way you look at it.”

A full list of the programs can be found on the Our Community Bikes websiteThose interested in donating gently used bikes, parts and tools can learn more here

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Alyssa TherrienAlyssa Therrien

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