Bikes for the World

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Director's Letter to BRAIN

BfW volunteers at REI Fairfax Collection
Our last post about our work with local bike shops and the impact that has on the community reminded me of a recent letter to the editor from BfW Director Keith Oberg to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN). BRAIN is to the bike industry what the American Journal of Medicine is to medical professions.

BRAIN had done a piece on non-profits in the cycling industry in February 2012. The following is Oberg's response:

"Bikes for the World is the nation's largest bicycle reuse program--9,000 used bikes collected and donated in 2011, 60,000 since founding. We are creating a potentially significant model for raising the numbers of cyclists and the visibility of cycling at home and abroad.

Bikes for the World began as a project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) in January 2005. Operating initially under WABA enabled us to start up on a shoestring. We were operationally and financially autonomous from the beginning, but it also meant that we were operating "under the radar screen" invisible to many in the industry.

That is now changing. BfW just finished its seventh year operationally and first year as an independent nonprofit organization. With 9,000 bikes shipped in 2011, valued at $55 apiece, we handled about $500,000 in material donations, which went to nonprofit partners locally (e.g., earn-a-bike programs) and overseas to countries including Barbados, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Namibia, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, and Uganda.

Add to this the 5,000 bikes worth $275,000 that we shipped on behalf of the Chicago-based Working Bikes Cooperative--placing their bikes with selected, qualified overseas programs--and the total of bicycles handled comes to more than 14,000 bikes during 2011. We look forward to an even bigger year in 2012.

BfW is not only promoting cycling as transportation overseas; it promotes cycling here in the U.S. through working closely with the mid-Atlantic region's independent bicycle retailers. More than 20 area retailers host periodic donation events or accept donations of bicycles on our behalf on an ongoing basis. They also help owners of bicycles no longer meeting their needs to dispose of their unsatisfactory old bikes and make room to purchase high-quality bikes--bikes purchased at these participating retailers.

It's a terrific win-win situation. Not only do our donors, volunteers, and the cycling industry benefit here; people overseas benefit as well. Bikes that cannot be economically serviced here can be reconditioned overseas, generating employment and building a larger market for cycling."

Local shop partners:

No comments:

Post a Comment