BENNINGTON — A neighborhood bicycle program that went dormant throughout the COVID-19 pandemic could also be getting again on two wheels.

The city and the Bennington Bike Hub, a nonprofit bike group, have signed a memorandum of understanding to switch possession and administration of eight neighborhood bicycles from the city to the Bike Hub, which operates a store at 160 Benmont Ave.

City Communications Coordinator Jonah Spivak mentioned a neighborhood bike program was initially the thought of Steve Hinchliffe, previous proprietor of the previous Nature’s Closet store right here. This system made bikes out there for gratis at collaborating companies all through Bennington.

“The thought was to primarily service thru-hikers [hiking the Appalachian and Long trails], visiting city and needing transportation,” Spivak mentioned, however the bikes have been out there to anybody who needed to borrow one.

After Nature’s Closet moved to Williamstown, Mass., this system was run by the Higher Bennington Company, which saved and signed out the bikes from the Downtown Welcome Heart.

PANDEMIC INTERRUPTION

The pandemic then intervened and the bikes went into storage, the place they’ve remained unused for the previous two to a few years, Spivak mentioned. With the formation of the nonprofit Bike Hub earlier this 12 months, and in assist of the designation of Bennington as an Appalachian Path Neighborhood, the city noticed a chance to resurrect this system, he mentioned.

On Sept. 9, the city delivered eight bikes from the previous neighborhood bike program to the Bike Hub.

John Gadbois, one of many Bike Hub mechanics, was available, together with Bike Hub board President Al Bashevkin, to fulfill Dan Cornell and Steve Langlois from the city Buildings and Grounds staff, which delivered the bikes.

Gadbois has expertise with an identical neighborhood bike program centered on thru-hikers that he presently operates in Cheshire, Mass.

MAINTENANCE FIRST

“We’ll begin by doing a little wanted upkeep on the bikes,” Gadbois mentioned. “We count on to start out having bikes out there within the spring.”

The bikes can be marked by painted forks and stays to make them extra identifiable as neighborhood bikes. To start out, the bikes can be out there on the Bike Hub store throughout the common hours, Thursday by Saturday, from 10 a.m. to six p.m.

“We’ll be on the lookout for further websites and volunteers to make the bikes out there for pickup and drop-off at further hours,” Gadbois mentioned.

The bikes can be out there for gratis.

Chris Callahan, vp of the Bike Hub group, added, “We’d hope to have greater than eight bikes out there this spring. That is fueled by our [bike] donation program, which goes gangbusters.”

BIKE HUB GOALS

Along with managing the neighborhood bike program, the Bike Hub is dedicated to growing bicycle use total and offering low-cost bikes for everybody who needs one.

The said mission of the group is to advertise wholesome life, empower youth by constructing abilities, confidence and independence; to make biking accessible and safer for all; to construct a robust biking tradition and neighborhood; and to encourage the usage of bicycles for transportation in addition to enjoyable, health and journey.

Planning for the Bike Hub was within the works for some time, members mentioned, however actually took off this previous summer season with the acquisition of the property on the former Highlander Bicycle store at 160 Benmont Ave. in August.

Extra details about the group is accessible on the web site ourbikehub.com.

HIGHLANDER CONNECTION

Andrew Corridor, son of Highlander Bicycle founder Peter Corridor, performed a big function in organising the nonprofit group, Spivak mentioned.

“The Hub has been busy!” mentioned Corridor, who works on the store. “We’re doing a lot of repairs, and we’ve got loads of curiosity in our refurbished bikes.”

The refurbished bikes, usually promoting for simply round $100, are of excellent high quality and are a solution to get folks on bikes at low price, he mentioned. Used bikes may be donated to the Hub and are tax deductible.

Donated bikes are labored on by volunteers, a few of whom are simply studying restore abilities with assist from Bike Hub workers. The bikes get a closing overview by one of many lead mechanics and can then both be put up on the market at an affordable value or can be “launched into the wild” — to affix the preliminary fleet of neighborhood bikes.

The give attention to low-cost bikes and operating the neighborhood bike program match into the general mission of accelerating bike use and introducing youth, and other people basically, to biking, group members mentioned. The aim is to encourage folks in order that they develop the fervour of using on two wheels that may final a lifetime.

Biking is also a viable different mode of transportation, which is nice for the atmosphere and for encouraging communities to develop extra bicycle-friendly infrastructure sooner or later.