The wheels behind Village Bicycle Cooperative
Congratulations to the Village Bicycle Cooperative for receiving the Bay Village project of the year award! The VBC was launched in 2012 by a group of residents who wanted to make Bay a more bike-able community. Today the nonprofit cooperative has five board members and more than 35 volunteers. I have had the pleasure of working and learning from the talented board members of the co-op and I thought it would be interesting to share some information about each person. These people have volunteered time, money and effort to create a viable bike program for the city of Bay Village.
Jennifer Smillie, board president, is the visionary who created a mission for Village Bicycle Cooperative. Jennifer wants to provide a supportive climate to foster a bike friendly town and also use VBC as a springboard to educate and facilitate outreach programs. Jennifer “wants to maintain a cooperative environment where people can come to have fun and to learn.” Some of Jennifer’s goals for the future of VBC are to increase volunteers and their involvement. At the award presentation on Feb. 23, Jennifer summed up her feelings about Bay and the community's support for the co-op, saying, “We live in an awesome town!”
Dr. Robert Piccirilli is the current board vice president and his role in VBC is as a mechanic fixing and restoring bikes. Bob has been a Bay resident for more than 20 years and currently serves on the Bay school board. He had taken mechanic classes at Ohio City Bike Co-op and when he learned about the beginning of a bike co-op in Bay, he decided to get involved. “My vision for VBC is that we become recognized as the bicycle authority on the west side of Cleveland, that we are respected for our knowledge and advocacy of cycling,” Bob said.
Peg Ludwig, board treasurer and Bay resident for more than 27 years, became involved with VBC because of her son’s interest in the Ohio University bike co-op and her membership in the Bay Village Green Team. Peg believes her involvement with VBC will “bring healthy sustainable recreation to the community.” She works as a collaborator and facilitator with other organizations to provide education about healthy lifelong activities especially recreational bike riding.
Board member Carl Gonzalez, a Bay resident for more than 25 years, became interested in VBC after reading about it in the Observer and thought “this can provide me with my goals of helping kids and seniors live a better and healthy life through cycling.” He volunteers his time at VBC providing bike maintenance, working with middle school students on repairing bikes and helping senior citizens ride adult tricycles. Of the co-op, Carl says, “It is kind of like good freeform jazz; by that I mean, tastefully improvised by some smart and talented people.”
Patrick McGannon, a board member, has been busy working on improving the Bay bike ordinances while also helping refurbish bikes, writing Observer articles about bike safety and helping with technology at the co-op. Patrick, who has lived in Bay for nearly 30 years, became interested in VBC because of his interest in biking and saw this as a opportunity “to make our region more bike-friendly, and therefore, more sustainable and desirable.” Patrick’s wish for VBC is “to grow our volunteer base so we can better deliver our services to the community.”
The board has many community programs in the future. They still need your help. Check www.villagebicycle.org for more information.
Last words of wisdom from Jennifer: "Enjoy the ride, bumps and all. With those alongside, that will help if you fall."