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Open Letter: FreshCycles and What We Do

Apr 8, 2019 | Blog


My name is Shams Harper, and I am the FreshCycles Program Coordinator. FreshCycles, a program of the United Way of Broome County, is a Community Bike Shop located on Binghamton’s North side, in the basement of the Lee Barta Community Center.

You may find me working with neighborhood residents, youth riders, bicycle enthusiasts of all ages, and people who want to give back to our community through participating and volunteering at FreshCycles. I’m here to share with you what we do in the FreshCycles Community Bike Shop, the incredible things we’ve done in the community, and how we are going to keep riding stronger together into the future.

FreshCycles offers three separate programs during the year: a weekly public bicycle repair workshop, Open Shop; a weekly supervised bike ride through the city, Group Ride; and a 5-week bicycle repair course, Earn-a-Bike. Through hands-on tutorials at the Open Shop; youth and adults learn basic bicycle maintenance and repair skills. Group Rides enable youth and adults to

travel by bike to places all over Binghamton and into Johnson City, encouraging both exploration and physical activity. The Earn-a-Bike Program empowers those in need or desire of a bike to volunteer their time to earn a new-to-them donated bicycle.

Before sharing some of the incredible milestones we’ve in the last year, I would like to highlight a few of our community members that made this all possible and who have reached some amazing milestones themselves!


Tuquan began FreshCycles mainly to participate in the Earn-a-Bike program, so he could have a mode of transportation to get around our community.  He quickly got involved, and came every time the shop was open. In no time, he put in the 10 hours of work it takes to earn a bike, but there was one little snag. He had to learn how to ride it! Over the next two weeks, Tyquan practiced learning to ride his bike in the Lee Barta Community Center parking lot, and with very little coaching, taught himself how to ride! He joined the Group Rides as soon as he felt ready and rode 17 miles with us, and now bikes all over the community.



With help from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, FreshCycles had the opportunity to develop youth assistant and program assistant positions. Youth Assistants Danielle and Brendan, and our Program Assistant Benjamin have demonstrated leadership, drive, and dedication, over the past year. Danielle and Brendan learned advanced bicycle repair, peer leadership, and work readiness skills, while also learning about the bicycle industry and transportation issues facing our community. They have helped lead Group Rides, and assisted community members during Open Shop repairs.

Our Program Assistant, Benjamin, has helped pedal FreshCycles forward with his technical expertise, his dedication to improving the workshop and programming, and his guiding presence in all of our programs.

We are very proud of the work our youth leaders put in this year and we are looking forward to another amazing youth program in 2019!

FreshCycles had some amazing volunteer efforts with nearly 420 hours of volunteerism within the program. Our volunteers have taken exceptional leadership in FreshCycles this past year. Without their help, FreshCycles would not be the enriching space it has grown to be. With the help of our volunteers, we have been able to do amazing feats, such as helping 20 people earn bicycles, building a pedal-powered electric generator, and riding 230 and over 90 hours together!

With this kind of momentum, we are planning on achieving some great things this coming bicycle season. Currently, we are building a Mobile Bicycle Repair trailer, thanks to SEFCU. With the aim of expanding our mobile repairs to 6 locations in 2019, FreshCycles is hitting the road!

Our Summer Youth Development Program is gearing up to train three more youth, and we are excited to have them assist and learn during programming at our home workshop and in the broader Broome County community. We are looking forward to zooming past our Group Ride numbers of 2018, and with your help, we will continue riding harder, growing stronger, and fixing better in our community!

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