Toledo Bikes helps area's needy keep rolling

·5 min read

Jun. 14—A Toledo man is in jail after being arrested and accused of breaking into a bicycle shop near downtown Toledo and stealing a bicycle.

The irony is the theft was unnecessary — all the bicycle thief had to do was ask for it and it would have been given to him in exchange for several hours of volunteering.

That's according to Steve Atkinson, the board president of Toledo Bikes, which owns the shop, and at least one shop customer — Ryan Brown, 25, of Toledo's Old West End neighborhood.

The suspect, William Nuzum, 31, of the 100 block of 17th Street, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Nuzum was held Friday in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $10,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing Thursday in Toledo Municipal Court, according to court records.

The incident early Tuesday morning — between 4:47 and 4:56 a.m. at 1114 Washington St. — was caught on a security camera.

The suspect "knowingly and forcefully" entered the bicycle shop through the front door and stole a black bicycle, according to an affidavit.

"If somebody comes in and wants to trade in their bike — even it's is not operational — we will fix it for a minimal charge, or if we can't, we will give them a bike for a price they can afford," said Mr. Atkinson, who also works at the shop as a volunteer.

People also can earn a bicycle by working volunteer hours at the shop.

"But if someone comes to us and they badly need a bike to get to work, to get to school, to improve their life, for their livelihood, for their education, for their well-being, we will work with them through our volunteer program to get them a restored bicycle for free," Mr. Atkinson said. "We need help with cleaning, picking up, moving bike parts around, or assisting a mechanic."

So whoever stole that bicycle did not need to break in in order to get it, he said.

Mr. Brown agreed with Mr. Atkinson, adding that Toledo Bikes "does a great" job serving the community and once helped him prevent his life from taking a downturn.

Mr. Brown said he used to ride a bike for a living, delivering food orders for a Jimmy Johns store downtown, when his then 3-year-old mountain bike developed problems with its brakes, chain, and tires during the fall of 2019. By late December, the bicycle broke down completely, with "the back wheel refusing to rotate," which led Mr. Brown to fear losing his job because he couldn't afford a new bike.

Once he heard about Toledo Bikes from friends who had repaired their own bikes there, he took his bike there. The store then repaired his bike for free, only charging him for parts. He did help a store volunteer to fix the bike, he said.

As a result, Mr. Brown kept his job and was later able to move on to get a job with a private security firm in Toledo, he said.

"The people there are awesome," Mr. Brown said of Toledo Bikes, "I was actually very thankful to them, because they helped me get back on the road and continue with my job."

Toledo Bikes reconditions used bicycles, some of which are then sold. The shop also offers a facility, classes, and tools for people to learn how to build and repair bicycles, in part by having its volunteers help those people repair their own bikes.

According to the organization's website

— A person volunteering for one hour gets an $8 credit toward purchases of used parts, bikes, and shop use, with shop credits not applying to new parts or accessories.

— Four to six volunteer hours may be exchanged for a choice of a child's bicycle.

— Eight to 12 volunteer hours may be exchanged for a choice of an adult's bicycle.

— Lights and a simple lock are provided for earned bikes, depending on availability.

Toledo Bikes has also sponsored local bike rides and has been in partnership with area nonprofits to fix bicycles for children and teach them job skills while assembling a bicycle.

Announced on its website, its mission is "to promote safe bicycle transportation in the general public, provide education on bicycle maintenance and safety, and make reused and recycled bicycles available to the community, including those who could not otherwise afford one."

The Washington Street shop has been open since 2012, when Toledo Bikes relocated from its old space in an Old West End church basement.

Toledo Bikes has teamed up with Live Well Greater Toledo's Safe Routes to School program for free bicycle-fixing and bicycle-checking events for eighth-grade students, and with the YMCA of Greater Toledo for free bicycle-repair events at area elementary schools.

The shop has given away restored bicycles to children whose bikes prove beyond repair, Mr. Atkinson said. Its volunteers also help out at food-and-water stops at area bike tours.

Jenny Hansen, the area YMCA's Toledo Safe Routes to School program coordinator, said Toledo Bikes volunteers are committed to ensuring area riders have safe bicycles to ride.

"They also are very friendly and patient with kids," Ms. Hansen said. "And not only do they repair children's bicycles, but they help the kids learn how to maintain and fix their own bikes."

Typically, the shop has two or four volunteers present. The hours are noon to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

For more information about Toledo Bikes, including its service and volunteer information, go www.toledobikes.org.

First Published June 14, 2021, 7:00am

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