I’m a bad cyclist. Not the kind that goes really fast and weaves in and out of traffic and runs stop signs. Oh, if only I had that much confidence. On the contrary – I am the anxious kind that waves to the cars at the intersection to Just go, It’s going to take me a while to get the bike going. I don’t bike because I’m good at it but because, as mediocre as I am, it reminds me what it feels like to feel.
For context, I learned how to bike as an adult right before COVID hit. I started biking more enthusiastically after I took a job that let out at 12am and had to find an alternative form of transportation because RIPTA didn’t run that late. Was there some risk involved for a wobbly cyclist to be on the road at night? Maybe, but it was worth the skill and the thrill. Why, that’s part of the learning process, baby! Sometimes you soar, sometimes you fall and eat dirt.
And sometimes, in the midst of all that, you become a member of a community at PVD Bike Collective and meet others who embrace the learning process as well as all the triumphs, frustrations, and greasiness that come with it.
PBC is a worker-run community bicycle workshop committed to economic justice, anti-racism, and anti-oppression. We believe that bikes are a vehicle (all pun intended) for joy, learning, expression, and mobility. We repair and redistribute used bikes, hold mechanics classes, and have regular open hours where anyone is welcome to get support in fixing their own bike. We’ve also started maintaining space for people to teach and learn skills that may or may not have to do with bikes.
As the climate crisis deepens, we see bikes as a small but meaningful part of building a world where all life – human and non-human – can thrive. Maybe more importantly, we believe practicing participatory decision-making and building community spaces where everyone belongs are muscles that will get us through the crisis, change current systems, and build alternatives. In a world that pushes perfection as the ultimate goal more often than not, PBC is a community where we embrace mistakes and happy accidents as a necessary part of life. If anything, they help further our sense of connection with one another in the shared process of building not just bikes but an intentional community together.
At PBC, one of our shared principles is that everyone has something to teach and something to learn. From our member Rosy who is the most patient teacher I have ever met to volunteer Jen who makes a mean playlist to volunteer Paul who knows where to get the best pizza strips in town. Because while we are united by being bike-curious, fixing bikes isn’t our ultimate purpose but, instead, a gateway for self-discovery, connection, and getting the conversation started. •
To learn more visit pvdbikecollective.org, follow us on IG @pvdbikecollective, or stop by Volunteer Night on Mondays 6 – 8pm or our open hours (every Thursday 6 – 8pm) to work on your bike!