Hub of activity
How one local cyclist is sharing her passion for bicycles as means of transportation - one bicycle at a time.
Ren Barger has a vision.
She wants a gathering place in Tulsa for those who share her love of bicycles as transport. A place where cyclists can park, take a shower and grab breakfast before heading to work. Later, they can return to take an evening class, such as bicycle maintenance or even art, cooking or aerobics, or listen to a local band at low or no cost.
While she admits Tulsa has a long way to go before residents set aside their SUVs for Schwinns, some aspects of Barger’s vision are coming together.
Tulsa Hub began in 2004 with the Community Cycling Project (CCP), a civic-outreach program based on simular programs in Portland, Ore., created by Sandra Crisp, a then-member of the Tulsa Wheelmen bicycle-racing club. The CCP provides needy individuals with reconditioned bicycles for transportation, along with gear and cycling instruction, at no cost to them. The program had distributed 80 bicycles by the time Crisp met Barger at the 2007 Tulsa Tough Kids cycling event, where she asked Barger to consider taking over the CCP.
Barger, a Tulsa native who became a vehicular cyclist while living in Chicago, jumped at the opportunity. However, Crisp had been running the CCP out of her garage, so Barger needed to find a new location for the program.
In September 2008, Tulsa Hub partnered with the Tulsa Community Foundation, which provided a location at 216 N. Elgin Ave.There, Tulsa Hub has distributed 30 more bicycles to people in need and is working to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit, retail used-bike shop and community center.
In early 2009, Barger attended classes in Oregon to learn bicycle construction and mechanics so that Tulsa Hub can eventually offer a DIY guided bicycle resource center. She has other plans as well — a youth immersion program offering tutoring with the potential for participants to earn a bicycle and a Hub “free” market and farmers’ market.
In the meantime, Barger and other Tulsa Hub supporters are working to change Tulsa’s collective consciousness regarding bicycling as a solution for rising fuel costs and the economic recession.
“We’re prepared to wait forever,” she says. “We’re going to be patient. … It’s an open invitation because there are so many benefits and it’s so much fun.”