On The Record
by Daniel Bush
Jul 21, 2009 | 18457 views | 0 0 comments | 703 703 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We all know riding a bicycle to work everyday instead of a car is better for the environment.

Better still? Try riding a recycled and restored bicycle, saved from the junk pile.

Now, thanks to the Brooklyn-based non-profit Recycle-A-Bicycle, the days of throwing out old clunkers are over.

Pasqualina Azzarello, the executive director of Recycle-a-Bicycle, is doing everything she can to ensure New Yorkers know that they're over for good.

Azarello oversees the company's two full service bike and repair shops, located in the East Village and at 35 Pearl Street in DUMBO, respectively.

Proceeds from the shops go towards funding a plethora of community outreach and education programs across the city. Azzarello said the programs work with over 1,000 young people each year- a clear sign the company's message of environmental sustainability is gaining traction.

"It's a very fertile time," Azzarello said. "More and more, as the benefits of cycling and recycling catch on, there's more of a demand for the programs we offer."

Recycle-A- Bicycle runs mechanics internships for high school students where they learn how to build bikes for school credit.

The company also runs four school-based workshops in middle and high schools in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, and offers environmental education and job training classes as well. The non-profit also teaches two bike classes in partnership with Bike NYC.

Azzarello, who lives in Brooklyn and has worked with Recycle-a-Bicycle for the past eight years, said the 15-year-old company's popularity has risen in direct proportion to citywide enthusiasm for bike riding and environmentalism.

"It's taken the company 15 years to get to know itself," Azzarello said. "New York has certainly changed in that time." Today, Recycle-A-Bicycle receives donations of approximately 1200 used bikes per year from individuals, superintendents and even local colleges and universities.

Yet despite its rapid growth the company remains a work in progress, with significant room for expansion, she said. In the meantime, the organization continues savings bikes across the city from the garbage dump.

"Whatever ways bikes can get out of the waste system and back on city streets is a great thing," Azzarello said.

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