They may be a retail bike shop, but Redemptive Cycles is also so much more to their home base of Birmingham, Alabama.
This small business and Good Company sells and services bicycles, while also getting those in need of transportation a set of two wheels of their own.
For Olivia Hart, executive director of Redemptive Cycles, the sole focus is the community.
“I can’t steer the ship without input from the community, so I’m open to all input, advice and criticism,” Hart said. “From an organizational sense, everyone can have conflicting ideas, so you have to wade through the feedback. Listening is something very important to me.”
Keeping an ear to the ground was especially important when the pandemic made its way to town.
“Everything changed. We were forced to think on our feet a lot and do quick pivots,” Hart explained.
We’ve grown in strength as an organization – the pandemic made cycling bigger around the world.
Olivia Hart, executive director of Redemptive Cycles
One such pivot included canceling the weekly “trample” – an event that brings out about 100 cyclists who ride through the Magic City together. It wasn’t a decision Hart made lightly, but listening to city officials and health experts, it was what she felt needed to be done for the safety of the Redemptive community, the RC Fam.
“I felt we would be letting the community down by getting so many people together each week, breathing over each other,” Hart recalled. “I wanted to stand ground and ensure we were doing the right thing. As an alternative, we used technology to share guided routes and hosted virtual rides. Those were neat and still exist on our website.”
As the latest wave of the pandemic has begun to settle, Hart says the RC Fam is back together.
“I think that our community understands the challenges we faced, so their input is valid no matter the situation,” Hart said. “We work to be transparent and try to communicate well. As a nonprofit – even when times are tough – appreciating the support we get and allowing transparency so people can see gifts and donations are impactful, is important.”
Hart not only hears but sees the silver linings that came from the past 18-plus months.
“We’ve grown in strength as an organization – the pandemic made cycling bigger around the world,” Hart shared. “I hope that by continuing to work hard and being there for customers and community, people will continue riding bikes and that we’ve forever changed the transportation landscape of the city.”