Bikes for the World

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Now That's How You Do Earth Day

April 22nd Bikes for the World shifted our operations north (and we aren't talking North Bethesda). We took a drive up the Pike to support the 12th annual Rotary Club of Carroll Creek bike collection. We had it on good authority it was going to be a good year.

This year was indeed special. Last year the Rotarians set a goal of one bike a day for a year. Last time we checked that is 365 days, typically- so 365 bikes right? Well the Rotarians must be dyslexic (and that's quite okay) because they actually turned over 539 bikes to us in 2016.

That effort was led by Richard Foot who turned over the reins to Norm Birzer this year who headed the bicycle committee for the Rotary club. And not to be outdone by his predecessor, Norm upped the ante. They continued to store bikes in an old dairy barn and increased their daily bike pick ups at bike shops, recycling centers, police departments, individual homes, etc.

By the first of the year, BfW was hearing rumors of well over 500 bikes already in storage...the same number of bikes we typically pack in a shipping container. So at a staff meeting Outreach Coordinator Yvette Hess asks Director Keith Oberg, "What is the feasibility of bringing a container directly into the barn where the Rotary club is storing bikes?" It was a long shot, but it beat moving all those bikes down to our warehouse...and at the time, we still didn't have our new warehouse figured out. That, and Keith LOVES this kind of challenge.

Shane Sellers of Frederick Community College
Well, it didn't take long to convince the Rotarians...a loading is fun and generates a lot of excitement for the program. And it's quite rewarding to collect the bikes for a single container and know exactly where it is heading.

This time, that program was CESTA in El Salvador. And the loading was scheduled for Earth Day, the day of their annual collection, at Triangle Motors in Frederick.

CESTA led bike ride in El Salvador
And what a perfect pairing.CESTA is very focused on Earth/climate issues. Just last month CESTA hosted the second ride for the environment in the town of San Pedro Masahuat, La Paz. The message being, ride your bike, save the earth! More than a hundred riders from surrounding schools along with community members who care about the environment participated in this pedaling 'protest'.

CESTA director Richard Navarro had this to say about riding a bike, "the bicycle is a mechanism that does not consume oil, does not contaminate the environment, does not generate noxious gases that impact the ecosystem."

Mackenzie Clark, Amber Meyers, and Dylan Wood
We were now still moving bikes from the barn to the loading, just not as far, being uber conscious of our carbon footprint during Earth Month. We pulled together an amazing team of Rotarians to help get this greasy wheel turning on Friday, and finished up with a collection of Rotarians and a great team from the Hood Rotaract Club.

But there was still a very active bike collection happening simultaneously. Thanks to May's BfW Featured Volunteer Sam Clingman, everything was moving along like a fine tuned drive train. Sam kept the volunteers in line prepping bikes and moving them to the container to be shipped to El Salvador. Donors got to see their bikes going directly into the shipment and the volunteers really got to see how and why the bike prepping is so important.

Richard Foot
It was chilly. It was rainy. We had a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time. No better team than the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek to get 'er done. The final count on that annual collection? 902 bikes (they were still coming in even after we closed the container, took down the tent and packed the wrenches away in the car). Um, yeah, we could have used TWO containers!

For the last four years, this collection has been stationed at Triangle Motors in Frederick. In the last four years the collection has yielded nearly 2,000 of the 3,000 total bikes collected over the last 12 years. It was the perfect place to celebrate their accomplishments with a container loading, despite the weather.

"You need to plan better and get better weather for this," joked Tom Meacham of Triangle Motor and also a member of the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek.

"It's Earth Day!" quipped back Richard Foot, the Rotarian who led the charge to take this collection to another level over two years ago.

"Well, this is pretty Earthy!" observed Tom.

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