Bikes for the World

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mechanics Make A Bike Work

Bikes from DICK'S 2013 Trade In Trade Up Sale
Bikes for the World receives over 10,000 bikes every year as donations that we in turn mostly send overseas. We often hear, "how do you get so many bikes??" The truth is, they are right here in our backyard. Last year we collected and shipped about 13,500 bikes with 4,000+ coming from a national partnership with DICK'S Sporting Goods.

We are happy to announce a second annual Trade In-Trade Up promotion with DICK'S is bringing us over 5,000 bikes this spring. But that still means our local community groups and bike shops are turning in 10,000 bikes collected mostly in the DC area.

Some of these bikes are taken in for repairs and the owners decide for one reason or another to donate them rather than fix them. Many donors cite the greatness of our program and their ability to buy another bike as their motive.

Others find out how expensive bike repairs in America can be and opt to simply buy another bike. For example a safety check including minor adjustments will run a patron an average of $50, while a thorough tune up could cost as much as $200 not including the price of any parts that need to be replaced.

Depending on the type of bike, model, and component system, this is really not that expensive. And if a bike is kept properly maintained and cleaned it will run great for years. But for some bike owners looking across the aisle at a brand new bike price of $200-350 the choice is simple...especially with the added incentive of donating an old bike to change someone's life overseas.

Courtesy Village Bicycle Project
The cost of labor here in America is one of the reasons we ship our bikes 'as is' to our partners overseas. But it's really a minor reason. Because of the way we ship our bikes, so tightly together and partially disassembled, bike mechanics are an integral part of the receiving organization.

Many of our partners train local people to be bike mechanics.They, then, reassemble our bikes and maintain them for years for their new owners, creating jobs and increasing incomes for their own families. This supports one of our main missions, generating skilled employment.

Courtesy St. Louis Bicycle Works
However, every now and again, we find an amazing program doing great things right here in our own American communities. Meet the men of Marion, who are working in a bike mechanics program established by Bikes for the World's newest U.S. partner, St. Louis Bicycle Works. These inmates were trained by St. Louis Bicycle Works and work on bikes instead of working out in the gym or watching TV.

The bikes they refurbish are going back into the program in St. Louis where they support an Earn-a-Bike program with area youth or they are shipped overseas to similar projects we support. The inmates have, to date, given back thousands of bikes to this program and overall describe the program as very rewarding. Continue reading about this 3 year old project in Illinois.

Courtesy St. Louis Bicycle Works
June 1, 2013 Bikes for the World sent Nick Colombo to St. Louis to help Bicycle Works load and ship their very first container. For the past 5-6 years Bicycle Works has been sending bikes to our sister organization Working Bikes in Chicago who has been shipping containers for them.

The container packed this weekend as an Eagle scout project will be heading to our partner CESTA in El Salvador. In just under 6 hours, with the help of 25 volunteers, they packed about 500 bikes in this trailer under the expert guidance of Nick. Included in the shipment are about 20 bikes from the Marion Federal Penitentiary program.

This relationship is another step toward one of our current priorities at Bikes for the World which is to increase our national presence. Congratulations to everyone involved...including one Eagle candidate, Ben O'Brien, who contacted us last year to do his Eagle project with Bikes for the World. Working out of Kentucky, we were able to connect Ben with Bicycle Works and the bikes he collected were also included in this recent shipment.

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