Building Community through Bikes at the Fall Festival


On Saturday, September 10th, REACH held the 7th Annual Waltham Neighborhoods Fall Festival. You may have seen posts on our social media or read the official recap. But we wanted to bring you the perspective of someone from the community, so you could hear firsthand why she chose to get involved, and what the experience has meant to her. Nicole Waxmonsky has brought her love of cycling and her enthusiasm for building community connections to our Fall Festival for the past several years. Here’s why…

The author, Nicole Waxmonsky
The author, Nicole Waxmonsky

My enthusiasm for cycling started over a decade ago while living in Minnesota. Riding a bike, year-round, provided a stress-free commute and a great way to stay in shape.  To share my love for riding, I became a cycling instructor, teaching people to do bike repairs and helping them feel more confident riding in traffic.

In 2013, I moved to Waltham and wanted to meet people in my new city. Through the power of social media, I heard about REACH planning their city-wide Waltham Neighborhoods Fall Festival.  I expressed an interest in providing bicycle education, and they invited me to a planning meeting!  Through these meetings, I became much more knowledgeable about what to do, and what to say, about domestic violence. I also met many great people who are creating a more connected Waltham community.

Since then, ‘The Bike Table’ has been a part of the Fall Festival. We have received generous bikesdonations from Schwinn (2013) and the Boston Children’s Hospital in Waltham (2014-2016) to provide children with properly fitted bicycle helmets. This year, we also supplied access to tools and bicycle repair via the Watch City Bike Lab, a new Waltham community DIY bike workshop. One gentleman was so happy to get his bike tuned up, he performed several magic tricks for us as a “tip”!

Connecting people is one of the goals of the Fall Festival.  These new connections are also the highlight for me every year. Whether it is giving a new Waltham resident tips on the best bike trails, or teaching a kid how to inflate their bike tires, these interactions build relationships which strengthen our community.

bikes2REACH is a vital and important asset not only in their work supporting and advocating for survivors, but also through their building awareness that domestic violence is a community issue we can all work to prevent. Until volunteering with REACH, I never realized the power that a small action like saying “Hi” to a neighbor could have, or in helping someone use a wrench for the first time.  Consider this a challenge until the next Fall Festival  – what small action can you take to strengthen our community?

If you’d like to get involved with next year’s Waltham Neighborhoods Fall Festival, and/or in building similar connections in your own community, contact our Prevention Department.