I have a soft spot for B!KE: The Peterborough Community Cycling Hub. And while I haven’t been a part of their membership in awhile, or even darkened their door, I remain inspired by the work they do in making Peterborough a better place — and not just for cyclists. They are a passionate and hardworking crew that have a powerful impact on issues ranging from health to poverty reduction to education and, yes, cycling advocacy.
For those who don’t know, B!KE is an incorporated not-for-profit, member-based cycling education and support organization. Their mandate? To get bicycles into the hands of as many people as possible and to empower them to ride safely and with confidence. They believe that transportation is a right — and that cycling is a sustainable (and affordable) way to help ensure that right.
When I first encountered them, they were located in the tiny garage at the back of Sadleir House. Their finances, I was astonished to note, consisted of a wad of money and receipts folded away in a tire patch kit.
Sarah Follett was doing the heavy lifting for the very fledgling operation — fixing bikes, doing the books, and working her butt off to keep the lights on. She was a grease-stained hero and a champion for the two-wheeled. Incredibly overworked and under-resourced, she often got by on a combination of passion and perseverance.
So impressed was I that I offered to lend a hand helping with a bit of organizational development, eventually helping to found their Board of Directors and gain both non-profit and charitable status.
As the eventual first Chair of B!KE’s Board, I definitely knew my role. And, in comparison with Sarah — and then with almost everyone else in the organization — it was a lightweight one. Mine was to mostly stay out of the way.
The folks spinning wrenches, guiding volunteers, and teaching people of all stripes about bicycle life — they were the ones doing the difficult work. They were the ones making a difference in countless individual lives and in the community as a whole.
It was inspiring to watch the early B!KE crew grow the organization into a new ramshackle home at Knox United Church and then, well after I was gone, into a higher profile home on Rubidge Street.
I really can’t express how excited I am that they are moving again — this time to George Street, where they will gain an incredible amount of exposure to passers-by and a more prominent place in our downtown community. I know that Executive Director, Tegan Moss, the staff, the Board, and all of the volunteers have worked hard to make this happen. They deserve hearty congratulations — and more than a few pats on the back.
B!KE is celebrating their grand opening this Friday, December 4th. They’ll be offering up hot cider and giving tours of their new digs. As downtown welcomes them, they’ll be welcoming the community as a whole… As they always have.
I’m hoping to pop by. And I’m hoping to see you there.
Celebrations are in order.