Cola Town Bike Collective’s 2021 Impact Report
2021 was a BIG year of growth for the Cola Town Bike Collective. We were able to hire our first full-time employee and executive director, Scott Nuelken, which has allowed the shop to be open 5 days a week and really let us hit the ground running with providing critical services to folks around the Midlands. We had a record-setting year for our Midlands Gives campaign thanks to the generous support from our community and we have also launched a Membership program.
In addition to our more traditional services, we have worked with and fostered relationships among the art and music community to use our space as an event location. We hosted a virtual First Thursday, “Jazz Blanca”, an outdoor party for “Together We are More”, as well as having Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr.) and Tommy Stinson (Replacements/Guns N’ Roses) stop in for intimate shows!
Additionally, we work directly with individuals who fall outside of traditional channels of help.
The Reliable Transportation Initiative
In 2021 we continued arguably our most important mission- to provide low cost/no cost bikes and repairs to folks in our community who rely on their bikes, many as their only form of transportation. These bikes are used to get to work, doctors appointments, to pick up groceries — sometimes in areas where a trip to the store can be more than 2 miles. These bikes act as a liferaft for our clients.
The Reliable Transportation Initiative provided roughly 115 free adult bikes, and just over 200 kids bikes this year. During that same time, over 175 free repair appointments were provided to help keep those bikes running. All told, we were able to get almost 400 bikes into the community, and provided approximately 350 repairs.
Thanks to a grant from The Rotary Club of Five Points, and funds from Central Carolina Community Foundation, we were able to include rechargeable lights and locks with over 50 of the bikes that we supplied to our clients.
Meet the Executive Director
Scott Nuelken, a founding member of the Cola Town Bike Collective, started what grew into the current organization in his garage in 2014.
Recognizing that there was strong need in the community to support people who use bicycles as a means of transportation, an important distinction from people who simply want to ride bicycles for exercise or athletic reasons, prompted him to start the first iteration of the CTBC in his garage in Rosewood. Inspired by the direct impact that Scott was having in his community, he quickly was able to enlist the help of volunteers, friends, and the broader community to help him to grow from a garage shop to our current location at almost 3,000 square feet.
In the past seven years, Nuelken has dedicated thousands of volunteer hours to the organization. He is the primary mechanic at the shop, but can also be seen in a suit meeting with City and County Council members discussing bike safety and bike infrastructure needs in the region. As a stopgap for safer roads in the region, Nuelken worked with other board members to create a web-app called Sprocket that draws on shared knowledge to help riders safely navigate Columbia’s roads.
Scott can be reached at (803) 917-6023
From the President
2021 proved to be a continuing challenge in Cola Town Bike Collective’s five-year history.
Though our shop was fully closed for 5 months, and then again for 2 weeks in August, your donations and support enabled us to continue our Reliable Transportation Initiative. Our Initiative allows us to provide transportation to people who need it at free or low cost, free or low cost bike repair services, maintain our bike repair stands, and continue to advocate for improved bike infrastructure in the Midlands. Thank you so much for all you’ve done to help CTBC continue to help others!
As a 501(c)(3) organization, CTBC’s operating budget relies heavily on donor contributions and various grants. Every year CTBC participates in Central Carolina Community Foundation’s Midlands Gives, a one-day fund-raising event allowing givers at all levels to support their favorite charities. We’re proud to report that through the incredible generosity and support of the community during Midlands Gives 2020 we were able to hire Scott Nuelken as our first-ever Executive Director, in 2021. The timing could not have been better: as the pandemic encouraged us all to spend more time outside, the demand for bike repair services spiked and has remained high for more than a year. With Scott’s full-time efforts in place the CTBC is able to continue fulfilling our mission and serving our community.
Our success in 2021 paves the way for us to go beyond our core Reliable Transportation Initiative and utilize the CTBC shop as a community space in 2022. We look forward to being an active part of the community that so generously supports us, and help to make Columbia a more fun and bike-friendly place to live.
Best wishes and safe riding!
President, Cola Town Bike Collective