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Lebanon County group works to get bikes to those in need

Lebanon Bicycle Recycle is based on the successful Harrisburg Bicycle Recycle.

  • Jeremy Long
Volunteer bike mechanics learn how to adjust a bike derailleur from Bill Slavonik, bike mechanic, left, explains at Lebanon Bicycle Recycle in the basement of St. James Lutheran Church on March 23, 2022

 Jeremy Long / WITF

Volunteer bike mechanics learn how to adjust a bike derailleur from Bill Slavonik, bike mechanic, left, explains at Lebanon Bicycle Recycle in the basement of St. James Lutheran Church on March 23, 2022

Bill Slavonik has been working on bicycles for most of his life. 

He was the oldest in a family of 13 brothers and sisters, and his dad would cruise garbage night looking for bikes to fix.

“I was the oldest son in the family and I would work on them so that the family would have bicycles,” Slavonik said.

witf · Lebanon Bicycle Recycle


Once a week, Slavonik can be found in the basement of St. James Lutheran Church on Lebanon’s southside still fixing bikes.

Slavonik is part of a new group in the city called Lebanon Bicycle Recycle.

The group’s goal is to repair old bikes and give them to people who need them.

Slavonik knows what he’s doing and could quickly adjust the derailleur in no time, but he’s going over each thing he does very slowly, letting the people gathered around him see and learn how it’s done. 

“That’s basically what I’m here for is just to pass along the skills and to try to teach the kids how to work on the bikes, how to adjust them so they can be ridden safely by others,” he said. 

Slavonik has been volunteering for years, fixing bikes and getting those bikes into the hands of people that need them. 

“The best thing is the smiles on kids’ faces or adults for that matter, that needed bikes,” he said. “It’s nice to see your efforts rewarded, when you fill a need and you can see it, that’s enough reward in itself.”

Slavonik and the rest of the volunteer mechanics are a small group of people hoping to make a difference in Lebanon County. 

Jeremy Long / WITF

Ron Birch from the Lebanon Valley Bicycle Coalition, left, and Laurie Crawford, project manager for Penn State College of Medicine’s REACH project, speak at Lebanon Bicycle Recycle ribbon cutting ceremony and open house at St. James Lutheran Church on March 19, 2022

The group formed after Laurie Crawford, project manager for Penn State’s REACH program, saw a need in the city. REACH is a national program administered by the CDC and aims to reduce racial and ethinic health disparities. 

“Not everyone in the city has reliable transportation,” Crawford said. “They need to get to their health appointments. They need to get to the libraries, the grocery stores for their food access. If the missing component is not having a bike, that is something that we can do.”

Crawford partnered with the Lebanon Valley Bicycle Coalition, an organization that promotes safe roads for cyclists, to try to reach even more people, especially children.

“We are trying to get them started off on the right foot,” said Ron Birch, a member of the bicycle coalition working with bicycle recycle. “Get them helmets that fit. Get them involved in the safety of riding through the city. Then they’ll carry that habit into their adult life.”

The organization has steadily grown but is in need of volunteer mechanics. 

Best friends Abby Crawford and Sophia Medzoyan started coming to Lebanon Bicycle Recycle because they wanted to become more involved in their community. 

The two 16-year-olds also wanted to rely less on their dads when their bikes broke. 

 “There are a lot of mechanics that come and help us,” Abby said. “And we have learned so much. I went from knowing basically nothing, that I would now feel confident fixing one.” 

Learning to fix bikes has been challenging at times. 

“There are so many different ways to take apart a brake and I just cannot keep it straight in my head,” Medzoyan said.

But, she said, lack of experience shouldn’t keep someone from volunteering.

“I’m not a hands-on person,” she said. “I cannot do any of that stuff and I’ve been doing OK. So, if I can do it, anyone can do it.”

Lebanon Bicycle Recycle also wants to reach out to Lebanon’s growing Latino population, Crawford said.

The latest U.S. Census data showed 43% of the city identifies as Hispanic or Latino.

Lebanon Bicycle Recycle will offer bilingual services and that makes the program unique, Crawford said. 

Over the past few years, Lebanon has become more bike friendly.

The city installed a fix-it station at the Lebanon Farmers Market. A dirt pump track was built at Coleman Memorial Park. 


The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail runs through the city, and there are plans to connect the trail to Coleman Memorial Park, Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello said.

As Lebanon becomes more bikeable, Lebanon Valley Bicycle Recycle will be there to try to ensure everyone that needs a bike, has one. 

“If you need a bike, it’s a place you can come,” Crawford said. “Then we’ll have you fitted. If we don’t have the right bike, we will find the right bike. And we’ll kind of make it happen for you.”  

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