Franklinton Cycle Works (FCW) began in response to a perceived need. When the organization’s founders moved to Franklinton in 2008 they immediately realized that many residents depended on bicycles for everyday transportation. Unfortunately, the residents had few resources for maintenance and repair, meaning many were riding unsafe and unreliable bikes.
Franklinton is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Columbus, evidenced by its high infant mortality rate, low life expectancy, low graduation rate, neighborhood blight, and high rates of crime. Alongside housing and health, transportation is a major expense for most families and closely tied to health outcomes. Major studies have found that transportation insecurity is highly correlated with chronic poverty and poor health outcomes. FCW’s founders didn’t know the statistics at the time, but witnessed the reality in person. Helping people repair and maintain their bikes meant freedom and opportunity. Over the years, FCW has helped employees hold their jobs, students stay in school, friends and families stay connected, and those with medical needs stay healthy.
More background on FCW:
Franklinton Cycle Works exists to help people get where they need to go, both around town and in their lives. FCW understands that charge to mean building agency and fostering community, which is why it doesn’t simply pass out bikes or provide repairs for free. Instead, FCW has built a bicycle community resource center open and available to the public for free. Inside, you’ll find professional grade stands and tools, all the parts and pieces you might need to repair your bike, and friendly volunteers to help. Community residents utilize the resource center to connect with friends and make new friends as well as service their bike. In further alignment with FCW’s focus on building agency and community, the organization offers volunteer opportunities. Community residents earn $8/hour in shop credit while contributing to the mission of the organization and learning new skills.
FCW also partners with dozens of organizations around the city to add value to existing programs or generate new programs. In 2019, FCW formalized a relationship with Safe Routes To Schools (SRTS), a national initiative housed locally in Columbus Public Health. With SRTS, FCW is connecting with schools and families around the city to provide sustainable transportation and recreation options. FCW understands that getting to school is where education (and the foundation for a child’s future) begins, which is why its working with a broad collation to ensure all kids in Columbus Public Schools have good transportation options. Additionally, FCW understands that physical activity and enjoyment of the outdoors is critical to physical and mental health, which is why FCW takes groups of school age kids on day long bike trips outside the city and on scenic bike paths.
Bikes exist at the intersection of transportation, recreation, health, and wellness which makes them the perfect vehicle for personal empowerment and community building. With a focus on education, new experiences, and opportunity to resources, FCW is building a healthier, better connected, and more equitable community.
Jonathan Youngman is the Executive Director of Franklinton Cycle Works and a member of St. John’s, Columbus. Connect with him at email@example.com.