Ohio City Bicycle Co-op

Six Somali refugee kids learn to ride on 1st visit!

Written by Eric Gearhart
Saturday, 05 August 2017 09:45

The Cleveland Refugee Bike Project, which began early this year in partnership with Catholic Charities, had an inspiring recent success teaching the balance bike method to a group of young siblings -- and their mentors from Oberlin -- in preparation for a special Traffic Skills class to be held once they all can reliably ride two-wheelers; which should be soon, judging by their enthusiasm and drive!

One of their mentors, Kelly Garriott Waite, sent us this write-up she wrote for their church bulletin:

Last Saturday, at 4:00pm, after having grumpily wrestled two bike racks onto the backs of our cars, we took the refugee children to the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op, located in the Flats near the Columbus Avenue bridge. The kids were unusually silent as we drove, except in the translator's car where, we later learned, the children worried: There's only enough room for five bikes. Who won't get a bike today?

At the Bike Co-Op, we met Jim, our trainer, who'd begun his day at 8:00 that morning teaching a public version of the same three-hour class the children will be taking -- once they have learned to ride.  We began with a mandatory bicycle safety slideshow, which our translator, Bakisa, ably interpreted. Then we fitted each of the siblings with a bike and a helmet and we were off to the parking lot. 

There was much laughter as Jim, in what can best be described as a seated waddle, demonstrated how to balance on a bike with his feet on the ground. This way, we wouldn't need to run behind the children as they found their balance -- since most of them are too big for us to hold up anyway!

From fifty feet away down a slight incline, we stood facing our family as they rolled toward us. Their faces were a blend of elation, trepidation and often sheer joy as they worked up the nerve to trust their bike and themselves and remove their feet from the ground, if only for a moment.

One of the more ambitious of the kids wobbled and fell, often unintentionally cutting across the paths of his sisters. Sometimes he hid behind a pier to keep out of sight of the teacher as he, against instructions, began to try out his pedals! Naturally, he was chosen to head the group when Jim suggested a game of follow the leader, in which not only the refugees, but also Bakisa and the Refugee Group paraded on bikes around the parking lot, along the Cuyahoga and past diners at Merwin's Wharf like a line of giggling ducks. Jim ended the day by demonstrating the use of pedals and letting each child try his hand at soloing down the drive.

The afternoon air was filled with gentle raindrops, laughter, clapping, frequent shouts of "brakes! brakes!" (accompanied by the squeezing of air for emphasis) and lots of Somali words we didn't understand. And that's OK: no words were necessary to describe the independence and confidence our family felt. No words are necessary to describe the love we feel for these kids and the joy we share at helping edge them a little closer toward making their way in a new and confusing world.

At seven o'clock, sweaty, hungry, and more than a little tired, we loaded all six bicycles onto our cars and headed out for celebratory ice cream, courtesy Bakisa, before taking the family home.

This group returns for a second session next week:    they have been practicing with their mentors in a schoolyard near their new home, and are eager to take the next step to becoming cyclists!

Last Updated ( Saturday, 05 August 2017 09:45 )

Special Sunday Social Ride 6/25: Walworth Run

Written by Jim Sheehan
Monday, 19 June 2017 14:29

On Sunday, June 25th, starting at noon, OCBC will be leading an extended, extra-informative version of our Social ride to explore the buried wonders of Walworth Run (where Train Avenue is now), presented by local archaeologist Roy Larick of Bluestone Heights.

"In the early 1800s, Walworth Run was a clear spring-fed stream. A century later it became a big sewer.  In the mid to late 1800s, water-needing industries set upon the stream. They needed it to death." -- from Roy's route guide: map and more info here.

The event is hosted by OCBC, with support for this special presentation from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.  

The ride is free, including light snacks at the start -- as always, donations are appreciated. Meet at OCBC after 11a; the ride will depart promptly at noon. This is a group ride at a very casual pace, but not van-supported: please safety check your bike in advance. Note a road racing bike with cleated shoes may be inconvenient: there will be short sections of dirt or grass (easily ridden with wider tires), and several stops with optional walking.

Loaner bicycles are available: to reserve one, contact info@ohiocitycycles.org with your height by Thursday June 22nd.

Update, 6/27

Here is the mapped route we took for this ride (slightly different that the line on Roy's map).  We look forward to another ride with Roy, probably in September, to explore Kingsbury Run.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 June 2017 17:33 )

Refugee Bike Project Update

Written by Eric Gearhart
Thursday, 11 May 2017 10:13

On May 22nd, our collaboration with Bike Cleveland and the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland called the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project will hold the first training, to size helmets and bikes for recently settled Cleveland refugees from the first of three language groups. Shortly thereafter twenty Arabic speaking refugees will visit OCBC for a special, translated Traffic Skills ride, and receive their bikes, helments, locks, and other essential accessories.

We would like to thank everyone who donated bikes and funding for this special project to help integrate some of the world's neediest citizens into our community with economical, practical transportation. Your generosity is appreciated by us, our partners, and Cleveland's refugee population.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 May 2017 10:14 )
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