MoBo Bicycle Co-op: Northside bike co-op building bikes, shaping communities

CINCINNATI — MoBo Bicycle Co-op has served as a staple resource for bicyclists in the Cincinnati area since it opened several years ago.

Tucked away in the heart of Northside on Knowlton Street, the volunteer-run operation aims to teach cyclists of all skill levels and ages how to gain independence on and off the road.

The cooperative was formed in 2007 when a group of friends came together and approached the Village Green Foundation, a nonprofit garden co-op, about establishing the city's first bike co-op.

It has since shared a space inside a restored bungalow with the community gardens and Soapbox Books and Zines.

Founders chose the name "MoBo" in honor of a late friend, Justin Morioka, who was a supporter and champion of the Cincinnati cycling community.

While most of the original members have moved on over the years, MoBo's mission continues to live through a new generation of volunteers.

"The type of people that tend to come and stay are the type of idealists that give their time to create a corner of their city to create a place they want to be in," said Michael Providenti, a volunteer of nearly four years.

Providenti was introduced to MoBo when he was having difficulty with his bicycle. Instead of dropping it off a a repair shop, he knew there was a way to fix it himself.

"I thought I can learn this, so I started hanging out and went to a series of workshops...then before the bike was finished I was a volunteer," he said.

Providenti continued attending workshops at MoBo. Once he reached the point where he could take a bike apart and put it back together, he had stumbled upon a new passion.

"It's always a learning experience. You don't come in because you know everything," said Providenti.

Northside resident Debbie Reischler had a similar experience.

After hearing about the co-op's efforts in 2011, she decided to shadow weekly open shop classes where members learn to fix their own bikes through the guidance of volunteers and peers.

She began volunteering herself at the front desk while slowly immersing herself in more workshops until she more gained confidence in her bike knowledge.

"I did an eight-week class that was just for women. By the end of it, I felt like I knew the answers," said Reischler.

Insiders can see photos of the volunteers and read more about the work the shop does. 

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