Howard: The Recyclery Collective Fixes and Donates Bikes

Howard Stop IconBy Maria Baglien
The Red Line Project

Posted: Monday, March 7 2011

One day a group of bike-loving friends decided to come together and create The Recyclery Collective, a nonprofit used bicycle store located just off the Howard Red Line stop.

Although Jesse Miller, 29, is the all that remains of this original group of friends, he continues to keep The Recyclery running in the East Rogers Park Area.

The Recyclery Collective, 7628 N. Paulina Ave., fixes bikes that have been donated then sells or donates the bikes. In addition to having open shop hours, where people can bring in their bikes and volunteers help them with repairs, the Recyclery also offers both youth and adult classes that are normally held on Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings and Sunday afternoons.

Podcast: Jesse Miller, who helped start the Recyclery Collective, talks about the nonprofit used bicycle store. Also featuring volunteers Paris Suggs and  Igar Kilomiychenko:

The Recyclery Collective by MBaglien

According to Miller, the Recyclery Collective wants to teach kids "how to ride safely, how to maintain their bike, and to talk about ecological sustainability."

The Recyclery Collective- Bikes

A bike collection in the front window of The Recyclery. (Photo by Maria Baglien)

The main class the Recyclery offers is “Complete Overhaul 101.” This six-week course gives adults an opportunity to learn how to take apart their bikes and then put them back together again, using The Recyclery’s tools.

The Recyclery also offers a two-day basic bike course where participants can learn how to maintain and properly take care of their bikes.

The space resembles that of a garage with tools hanging off of the walls, bicycle stands sticking out of the cement floor, and tires linearly lined up and hanging across the ceiling.

The Recyclery Collective 1

Used tools available for use at The Recyclery Collective. (photo Maria Baglien)

Unlike a garage, however, the Recyclery has various motivating posters hanging around the space. There is also the typical corner stacked with random tools and a ladder. Don’t forget the filled bucket of old, dirty rags and the empty bucket that is supposed to be holding clean ones for people to use.

“There are a lot of reasons to ride a bike,” Miller said. “One is it’s fun, another is for exercise, for the environment, money. It can be cheaper than owning a car or paying for gas or even riding the public transportation, and transportation is the other obvious point. You can get places efficiently and effectively.”

The Recyclery’s youth classes work with after-school programs, such as the Howard Area Community Center, Project NIA, and Connections for the Homeless.

“We’re not just trying to make money selling or recycling bikes but we’re trying to promote safe cycling and try to get more people on bikes and help kids feel confident working and riding bicycles,” Miller said.

The Recyclery offers its services for free, but they do suggest a $10 donation. Used bicycle sales take place on Saturdays. Bikes start at about $40 and on average sell for $100. They also sell accessories, such as helmets, locks, and bells.

The Recyclery used to be located in basement in Evanston. According to Miller, their new location is convenient because they are located close to the Howard red line stop but there is still room in front of the store for people to test their bikes out.

The Recyclery Collective 2

A bike being fixed at The Recyclery Collective. (Photo by Maria Baglien)

All of the Recyclery’s bikes are donated through their Freecyclery Program in an attempt to provide transportation for those who cannot afford it. Volunteers are relied on to fix up the bikes.

“It’s a lot cheaper than going to a bike store. We really aren’t quite competing with local bikes shops because here you have to do it yourself or learn how to do it. There they have experts who, if you don’t want to get into it, you can just have them do it and get it right the first time.”

One of the volunteers, Pari Suggs, 19, did not know how to fix a bike prior to volunteering with The Recyclery.

“This job really got me interested in bikes because usually I would just ride it around in my neighborhood. It also teaches me how to fix my own bike,” she said.

Another volunteer, Igar Kilomiychenko, 21, used to be on a national team in Pakistan. Now he is studying business at Truman College. He is working the Recyclery simply because he has a passion for riding and fixing bikes. Kilomiychenko is then hoping to participate in races once the snow melts.

Overall the Recyclery has had a positive impact on the Rogers Park area, according to Miller. They strive to promote bicycle riding to keep kids off the street and away from destructive activities.

The Recyclery Collective Group

From left to right: Igar Kilomiychenko, Paris Suggs
and Jesse Miller at the Recyclery. (Photo by Maria Baglien)

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