Creating the Good: A bike shop that empowers people of all ages

People of all ages can fall in love with building, fixing and riding bikes through programs at The Recyclery Collective in Rogers Park

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Biking on the streets and sidewalks of Rogers Park has become more beautiful and less bumpy all thanks to an innovative idea from The Recyclery Collective, a community bike shop in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

In 2019, The Recyclery Collective received a quick-action grant from AARP to commission local artists to turn neighborhood potholes – yes, potholes – into gorgeous works of art.

Given lots of creative liberty for this project, one artist decided to commemorate the life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by transforming a pothole into a mosaic representation of one of her famous collars.

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“Everyone who has found these pieces has been delighted by them, and it’s become almost a local scavenger hunt for people to find these,” said Tzippora Rhodes, Bike Donations Coordinator at The Recyclery Collective and lead for the pothole beautification project.

Through its daily work, The Recyclery Collective focuses on bike sales, repairs and education, and specifically on demystifying bicycle mechanics and teaching people of all ages how to repair a bicycle—whether for themselves or a friend.

On any given day, volunteers like Charlie McShane can be found happily fixing bikes that were brought to the shop.

“It matters to help somebody fix something, it matters to help somebody get a little more mobile, it matters, and that’s what we do here,” says McShane, who started volunteering at The Recyclery during his retirement.

In addition to education, The Recyclery Collective focuses on keeping bikes out of the waste stream.

“A lot of times bikes that were made 40 or 50 years ago are better than the bikes on the market today and just need a little bit of TLC from our awesome staff and volunteers to get them back on the road,” says Rhodes.

The Recyclery Collective accepts bike donations directly or at partner bike shops in the Chicagoland area. For more info email, donatebikes@therecyclery.org.

And for more information on AARP’s Community Challenge Grants go to: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/community-challenge/

To listen to an interview with Tzippora Rhodes and Charlie McShane and for more stories like this, subscribe to the “Creating the Good with AARP Illinois” podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

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