On May 14th, I wrote about how Richmond Cycling Corps is moving its headquarters
to a formerly vacant building much closer to the kids the group serves (mostly in Fairfield Court). As I said in that post, RCC always seems to be up to something big. Now comes more evidence. This summer they’ll launch a new venture — a bike rental shop on the Virginia Capital Trail
in Richmond called The Kickstand. I recently caught up with RCC Director of Development Matt Crane to find out more about it. Here’s our interview.
An aerial view of the area where RCC’s “Kickstand” bike rental shop will be located.
RO: How long has this been in the works? Who’s idea was it? How did it come together?
The Kickstand came about from an idea hatched by Richmond Cycling Corps Executive Director Craig Dodson in late summer of 2015. He was spending significant time on the Virginia Capital Trail
, especially the section by Rockett’s Landing, and was struck by the incredible volume of trail users. He immediately realized the potential for a bicycle rental service there. Through the Richmond Bicycle Studio, our full-service bike shop, we’ve received a significant number of queries about bicycle rental over the past few years. A rental service had always been in the back of our minds as an expansion of earned income for RCC; seeing the potential on the Capital Trail put it all together.
The last piece to fall into place, and which truly made the whole thing click, was the realization that The Kickstand project would not only serve as earned income for RCC, but would provide a means of creating employment for the youth in Richmond’s East End public housing that RCC serves.
Putting all of this into place was only possible because of the support of the City of Richmond, which has been a steadfast supporter from the inception of the project. Seed funding from The Robins Foundation has allowed us to get started on this right away, and we are incredibly grateful for that.
RO: Can you give me some of the basic details for the Kickstand? Where will it be located exactly? When does it open? Hours of operation? How many kids will staff it? Will it offer anything besides bike rentals? What kinds of will be available bikes? Open all year? Seasonal?
MC: Location: Grassy parking area just west of the Intermediate Terminal Building next to where Gillies Creek enters the James River
Opens: TBD. Looking at mid-June.
Hours: 8am-12pm, 4pm-8pm. Open Spring, Summer, Fall.
Staff: 3-5 youth
Rentals: Fleet of Kona bicycles, including hybrids of all sizes and a tandem.
Offers: Mechanical assistance and repairs, basic supplies, cold drinks
Also: Bicycle Patrol of RCC youth! In the style of a ski patrol, these youth will be equipped with first aid training, and will be prepared to offer mechanical assistance, first aid, water, and other assistance to trail users. They will be available by calling a designated number; The Kickstand will serve as dispatch.
The Va. Capital Trail near the Richmond/Henrico line. Credit: VDOT
RO: What do you hope the kids get out of this?
MC: Our youth will gain summer employment, interaction with the community, on-the-job training, and a chance to offer their experience and value as cyclists toward helping other riders.
RO: What do you hope the Richmond community gets from the rental shop?
Richmond stands to gain significantly by opening up the beautiful Virginia Capital Trail
to more users. Anyone in the community will now have access to the trail — both those without bicycles, or those who do not have the ability to ride or drive their bike down to the trail. This will also open up tourist use of the trail — currently there is no bicycle rental available on the trail itself. Visitors to Richmond will have the ability to use the Va. Capital Trail on bicycles.
RO: How does this fit with the RCC mission?
MC: The RCC mission is about so much more that bicycles; at heart, we are an empowerment program for youth in poverty. We choose the bicycle as our tool for the momentous task of breaking youth free from systemic poverty. Providing employment, and connections to the community, is essential to this. The Kickstand will open up new paths to employment.
RCC believes not just in empowering youth, but in creating a sustainable non-profit operation through empowered income generation. By creating self-sufficient funding through earned income, we are able to more solidly position ourselves to be of maximum service to our youth. We have made a commitment to never let them down, and by taking care of our financial future, we are ensuring that the opportunities we provide will be available for years to come.