Bikes for the World

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cycle Recycle Canada

Tiverton, Canada. Bikes for the World has been shipping bikes internationally since we began in 2005. July, however, marks a first:  even the loading itself was done outside the US!

Our latest container destined for Bicycling Empowerment Network South Africa (BEN SA) shipped from Canada last week. A group of Lions Club members based in Tiverton, spearheaded this effort collecting donated bikes around the region and pulling together teamwork from half a dozen Lions Clubs.

Cycle Recycle was the brainchild of outgoing Governor Hank VanMoorsel who created the project last year in hopes of shipping a container of bikes to Africa. When he contacted Bikes for the World for advice, we offered up more than that. We gave him Bob.

Bob Evans was a valuable part of Bikes for the World until he relocated to Canada. He was very knowledgeable of our program, where to find bikes, how to pack containers, basically all aspects of our operation. He was a 'go-to' guy whenever we needed a good mentor for volunteers. He would be a perfect fit for this group...and he was nearby!

Clearly Bob is a great mentor, just check the results. He walked this Canadian group through our bike processing procedure that enables us to pack bikes tightly in the container avoiding damage by preventing them from shifting during transport. It also allows us to load more bikes into the truck making the shipment even more valuable to our partners.

The Lions Club packed 497 bikes into this trailer in just under 5 hours. The group opted for a 'live load' meaning they had one day to complete it, at a savings of half the cost. Given their distance inland it made more sense to beat the heat and get it done as quickly as possible.

Nate and Dave in BfW warehouse in VA
Arlington, Virginia, USA. Just as we do in Virginia, this Canadian donated container included bikes, parts, and tires. Equally important as the bikes themselves, spare parts will help mechanics get the donated bikes back in working order once they arrive in South Africa.

In our warehouse in Virginia, our volunteer mechanics strip usable parts off our marginal frames so that we can include them in the nooks and crannies the bikes form in the container once they are packed tight. With these spare parts, mechanics overseas can repair the bikes and keep them rolling for years to come.

Morgan is a mechanic in Cape Town
Masiphumelele, Cape Town, South Africa. The model of BEN South Africa is to train locals in business and mechanics so that they can set up their own remote bike shops that will serve their communities and provide for their families. In their 'spare time' BEN SA works closely with youth to ensure they are familiar with safe riding skills and with adults to encourage more bike use around Cape Town.

"Morgan" Solomon Chikumba is a mechanic that came through the BEN training program. He now owns his own shop called a BEC, Bicycle Empowerment Centre, in Masiphumelele (meaning we will succeed). He will make use of those spare parts to fix donated bikes for his neighbors who use them for work. Morgan, himself, now uses his bike for work and errands, saving a ton of money on taxi service.

When asked what he learned from BEN Morgan replied, "I learn a lot especially communication and understanding to the customers." He goes on to say the relationship between BEN and the BECs is like a family and its existence is an important part of their community.

In the photo above Morgan explains the brakes and gears to a customer, something every bike owner wants: a good mechanic that listens to our concerns and helps us understand how to care for our bikes. Success indeed.

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