Ithaca Group Exhibits Help as Recycle Ithaca’s Bicycles Faces Shut Down
For the previous 30 years, the nondescript constructing with a inexperienced door on the nook of Buffalo and Meadow Streets has been the house to Recycle Ithaca’s Bicycles, a community-run bike store that gives mechanical help and sells reasonably priced bikes.
However after three many years, native residents arrived at a shuttered constructing: Final week, workers have been locked out of the constructing and this system had been out of the blue shut down.
On Sept. 10, the board of the Southside Community Center — a corporation centered on empowering Ithaca’s Black residents that oversees and partially funds the bike program — fired the director of RIBs, and on Sept. 14, the locks on the constructing have been modified with out the workers’s information.
“The board feared that finances cuts on account of COVID-19 would have an effect on the Southside Group Middle, so that they preemptively fired all their staff,” stated Nicholas Desystemizer, the now-former director of RIBs. The board additionally suspended all middle applications for the foreseeable future.
The information of the shut down got here as a shock to Desystemizer, who stated that he was given solely a 24-hour discover earlier than his termination.
Underneath regular operations, the small store is crammed with instruments, spare bike elements and volunteers who present mechanical help. Throughout open store, folks can stroll in and use any of the instruments or elements they want for bike repairs and discover ways to repair their bike from volunteer mechanics.
At the moment, nobody is ready to entry any of the equipment within the store, however volunteers are displaying up throughout common enterprise hours and are bringing in their very own instruments and bike stands to work outdoors of the constructing.
“It was extra of a present of assist,” stated Daniel Keough, a longtime RIBs volunteer. “A number of folks have been in a position to get their bikes repaired on Tuesday.”
Regardless of the efforts of Desystemizer and the volunteers, operating the store with out entry to the constructing has confirmed troublesome.
“We have been utilizing these instruments, however in fact now they’ve been amputated,” Desystemizer stated, referencing the bike instruments that had been connected to the skin workstation however have since been stolen.
Recycle Ithaca’s Bicycles has lengthy served as an accessible and sustainable bike store for Ithaca residents — and its loss has been felt by neighborhood members and RIBs volunteers.
Considered one of RIBs’ well-liked applications earlier than it abruptly shut down was Earn-a-Bike, which allowed neighborhood members to work alongside the RIBs workforce to construct a motorcycle from donated elements and may take it residence as soon as it’s accomplished.
“It was a time consuming course of, however I by no means felt prefer it was taking too lengthy as a result of it was simply so attention-grabbing and the top end result got here out actually superb,” stated Talia Fishman ’22, who constructed a motorcycle at RIBs over the summer time.
Keough added that RIBs has contributed to sustainability initiatives, encouraging residents to bike and reuse bicycle elements that might in any other case be thrown away.
Claire Dehm, a volunteer who depends on her bicycle as her important mode of transportation, appreciated how RIBs offered technical companies for any resident who wanted it. However her favourite side of working on the store was the way it created a neighborhood for bike lovers and amateurs alike.
“Despite the fact that I knew nothing about bikes, it was an area the place I may study,” Fishman stated. “The shutdown is such a giant hit on the Ithaca neighborhood and the folks that depend on the house.”
The way forward for RIBs continues to be unknown, however Desystemizer has reached out to the Southside Board, Ithaca City Renewal Company and Mayor Svante Myrick ’09, hoping to maintain the neighborhood bike program alive. Within the meantime, RIBs is working throughout its normal enterprise hours outdoors the constructing.
“Simply because somebody from Southside Group Middle determined to lock a door doesn’t imply the demand for repairing bikes has magically vanished,” Keough stated.