Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Wheel House: Recycle Bicycle buys permanent home following years-long search

Volunteers clean out the interior of the new Recycle Bicycle building this past weekend.

The long search is over.

After years of combing through nearly every neighborhood in Harrisburg, Recycle Bicycle has found a new home—and it’s exactly where Ross Willard has wanted to be all along.

“It’s in the heart of the city, which is where we need to be because that’s where the need is the greatest,” said Willard, founder of the Harrisburg-based nonprofit.

Specifically, it’s at 1722 Chestnut St., a mixed commercial and residential area smack-dab in the middle of Allison Hill.

Recycle Bicycle closed on the building purchase last week, and volunteers spent the weekend cleaning it out, an effort that continues this week.

But that’s just the first step. The circa-1940 machine shop needs a “a lot,” said Willard: a new roof, drywall, plumbing, lighting and much else before it can officially open for business, hopefully by early spring. In the meantime, the organization will be able to collect and store bikes there, while performing repairs outside the building.

Recycle Bicycle collects, fixes and gives away bikes free of charge throughout the Harrisburg area and beyond. Perhaps most importantly, it teaches people to care for and fix their own bicycles.

Willard said that he long had his eye on the 9,000-square-foot building near Hamilton Health Center but was unable to contact the former owner who ran a home repair business from there. When he finally reached him, the owner was willing to sell.

“Years ago, I pointed at a map and said that I wanted to be exactly there because it’s so centrally located,” Willard said.

That said—Willard still would like to find a satellite location in Uptown Harrisburg. For the past four years, Recycle Bicycle was located in the Atlas Street Warehouse, needing to move out after the building sold. As a result, the children in that neighborhood have grown up with easy access to the group and its volunteers, Willard said.

Meanwhile, fundraising continues so that the Allison Hill building can be fixed and made suitable for Recycle Bicycle.

“The roof will cost us as much as the building did,” said Willard.

With that, Willard needed to get off the phone, since he was at an area halfway house helping a resident there fix his bicycle so he could get to his job.

“Too many guys and gals need economical transportation to get to work,” he said. “We are that place.”

For more information about Recycle Bicycle and to make a donation, visit

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