Tulsa Hub is a syndicate of volunteers with a mission to change lives through cycling. Founded by Ren Barger in 2008, Tulsa Hub is the belief in human power, made visible. Tulsa Hub is the only non-profit in Oklahoma providing certified bicycling-for-transportation education, refurbished bicycles, safety gear, and follow-up support to the impoverished, mentally ill, or otherwise disenfranchised of our community. After participants “pay it forward” with 10 hours of volunteerism and training, bicycles and gear are earned in the Adult Cycling Empowerment (ACE) program. We are also working to change the habits of the next generation by conducting active-transportation programs with elementary school students.
Bikes are donated from Tulsa citizens, and refurbished by Tulsa Hub volunteer mechanics. Since our inception in 2009, we have helped 230 adults earn a reliable transportation option, and given 400 bikes to 2nd-6th graders in our programs. Over 60% of ACE alumni consistently volunteer with us, and about half have used their bike to get jobs, go back to school, or otherwise make moves toward self-sufficiency.
A Tulsa World article came out on the Tulsa Hub’s adult earn-a-bike program in June of 2009, which resulted in new volunteer investment and hundreds of additional bike donations. Right about this time, Stuart Hetherington, the Hub’s part-time Workshop Manager, and John Carlisle, the Hub’s other lead mechanic, joined the volunteer crew, and still lead all mechanical projects today.
Ren was assisted with Dick Bank’s Eugene Field Bike Club in the spring of 2009, and was invited to begin an after school cycling club at Kendall-Whittier Elementary in the fall of 2009. In Spring of 2010, Tulsa Hub received a Safe Routes to Schools grant, and conducted Bike Clubs at five elementary schools, thanks to a donation from LaFarge, which financed the purchase of 30 fleet bikes to use in trainings. (Tulsa Hub has since conducted Bike Clubs at seven Community/Title 1 elementary schools, teaching over 400 students how to use bicycles safely and effectively as vehicles.) Tulsa Kids covered the Bike Clubs in the fall of 2010.
The first Board of Directors meeting was held in July of 2009 at the Flynn Law Firm, populated by eight caring Tulsa citizens (two of whom are still involved with the Board today.) Once the ONEOK Field was completed in the fall of 2009, and the original Hub warehouse at 216 N. Elgin was set to be demolished, Tulsa Hub was invited by David Sharp to store their bicycles in the CB Kerr warehouse at 12 N. Cheyenne, and relocated the Workshop to 601 W. 3rd St (the former DTU Headquarters), at the invitation of Don Walker and MayFest. The 3rd St. building sold to Chris Bumgarner in 2011, but the Hub continues to operate there at his generosity to this day. Ren made the cover of Tulsa People in April 2011, and was invited to present the Hub’s Youth Programming at the Safe Routes to Schools national Conference in August 2011. This Land Press featured Ren on their back cover of the December 2010 issue.
Since our inception in 2009, we have helped 230 adults earn a reliable transportation option, and trained over 1,000 students. We still operate under a $60,000 annual cash budget. When the needy come to us looking for a means of transportation, they find a long-term invitation to build a grass-roots community advocating human power.