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Effort underway to bring back Holy City Bike Co-op

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Effort underway to bring back Holy City Bike Co-op

In 2011, Dan Kelley with Holy City Bike Co-op makes a bicycle wheel during the South Carolina Green Fair. While the original cooperative lasted only a few years, an effort is underway to resurrect it.

I think it’s safe to say that Charleston is a dynamic place to live.

Things come and go. Some die. Some grow.

And while of a lot of that has to do with the area’s growing population and economy, some of it is due to the ebb and flow of young adults coming to town for an education at the College of Charleston, The Citadel and the Medical University of South Carolina.

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The Holy City Bike Co-op is an example of that. It started in 2008 as a grassroots local cycling group, organizing social rides and volunteer bike maintenance. It basically faded away four years later as founding members either moved from the area or moved on with their adult lives. (You know the formula: marriage-careers-kids, not necessarily in that order.)

But Sylvie Baele, the sister of one of those founding members, Cedric Baele, is trying to revive it and will be part of the third annual Charleston DIY Festival, 1-4 p.m. Saturday at the Charleston County Library’s main branch on Calhoun Street. (

The festival is a community-led event bringing an array of organizations together to provide knowledge and networking for “doing it yourself” and will be one of the signs of HCBC’s reincarnation.

“Holy City Bike Co-op fell apart when several of the founding members moved away from Charleston. The torch was not adequately passed to the remaining members and then they lost their (operations) space,” says Baele, who works as bicycle advisor and event coordinator for Trek Bicycle Store of Mount Pleasant.

Baele wants to revive the co-op because she sees the need for it and, particularly, a bicycle repair shop, in the area.

“So many people who live here rely on bikes for transportation,” says Baele. “We need an accessible space where people of all backgrounds can come to learn to fix and maintain bikes at an affordable cost.”

She also wants the co-op to have an “Earn-a-Bike” program and to distribute necessary equipment such as lights and locks.

“The new Holy City Bike Co-op will have a strong focus on organization and accountability this time around. We are planning to finalize our 501c3 nonprofit status, obtain grants and seek out donors in order to establish a solid operating budget and get some really amazing programs rolling.”

The bike co-op would work in conjunction with Charleston Moves, the area’s bike and pedestrian advocacy organization, not in competition with it.

“Our organizations have similar end goals: getting people on bikes and allowing them to use them safely. But we have more of a direct approach to empowerment and plan to work with individuals to educate them on bike mechanics,” she says. “We will provide resources and promote bike advocacy, but our focus is more on community building on an individual level.”

Nikki Seibert Kelley, a founding member of the co-op who married another founding member, Dan Kelley, says both of them are in full support of Baele’s efforts to bring back the co-op and have provided access to all materials from it.

“There has been an increasing demand for low-cost and community-based resources for cyclists in Charleston,” says Seibert Kelley, who now works as the sustainable agriculture director at Lowcountry Local First. “Bicycle cooperatives can provide a fun and low-cost way to get involved in cycling while empowering people in the community to build and fix their own bikes.”

In one of the most high-profile events for the cause of organ donation in South Carolina, LifePoint Inc. will hold its 11th annual Race for Life on Saturday at James Island County Park.

“This is our biggest fundraising event each year with proceeds going to help raise awareness about donation and to send Team South Carolina to the Donate Life Transplant Games of America,” says LifePoint’s Mark Johnson. “We appreciate the Lowcountry’s support of our race over the past 10 years and we hope that this will continue for the 11th annual LifePoint Race For Life.”

Johnson adds that last year’s race was its largest, to date, with 706 registrants, most of which still showed despite extremely cold temperatures.

Part of the draw is the fact that the event features two races, a 10K that starts at 8:15 a.m. and a 5K that starts at 8:25 a.m., and cash awards totaling $1,900. The event also includes a half-mile kids run and a “kids zone” at the park’s climbing wall.

Chance the Donor Dog, the mascot for Donate Life South Carolina and LifePoint, made his debut at the race last year and also will be in attendance.

Late registration for the event is $45 for the 10K, $35 for the 5K and $30 for the fun run.