The holiday season has passed, and many of us were fortunate enough to be inundated with great bicycle related gifts. However, it is important to remember that many people are not so fortunate. So in the spirit of the holiday season, which may have passed (though the sentiments arguably never should) and new year resolutions, I was inspired to write this post about bicycle salvage and recycling organizations. Hopefully this post will inspire you to either donate your old parts to such an organization in the area where you live or to seek one out to get yourself an affordable bicycle for transportation in 2010 and maybe even some new friends. Note: all photo credits to BICAS.
Bike Salvage and Recycling
Bike salvage and recycling organizations differ dramatically from place to place, but they are all typically inspired by the idea of refurbishing and repairing old or unused bicycles for people who need them most. Such organizations often survive from donations of bikes and bike parts, which might be in disrepair or simply collecting dust in a shed or garage. In some cases, individuals looking to get a bicycle from such organizations can simply buy one or donate their time to help pay off a bicycle. However, as the two examples below demonstrate, these organizations are not just about getting people onto bicycles, which is definitely a great mission in and of itself, but they are also dedicated to building a strong community, educating people about bicycle use and safety, and generally improving the local bicycle environment.
Part of my inspiration for writing this post is a great bicycle salvage organization located in Tucson, Arizona, which has had a huge impact on the Tucson cycling community. BICAS, which stands for Bicycle Inter-Community Action and Salvage, is a non-profit education and recycling center for bicycles that is collectively run and intended for people from all walks of life who want to get a bicycle for transportation.
BICAS has always been a socially minded organization, as it was originally developed with the intention of helping homeless people in Tucson find food, shelter, and transportation. Today, BICAS has expanded into a much larger organization that still maintains its original goal. BICAS not only helps refugees earn free bikes, they sell kids bikes for $5 during the holidays, have annual bike art auctions, offer an assortment of classes, and much more.
Learn more about BICAS, especially the art portion of it, in the video below. There are more videos about BICAS at their website, as well.
The Bike Church
Copenhagenize posted about The Bike Church a few months ago, which is a bicycle salvage organization located in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The Bike Church is dedicated to children who are middle school age and younger. There is a sister organization called Second Life Bikes, which is meant for high school aged kids. The Bike Church’s organizer – Kerri Martin, who is also part of WalkBikeJersey – emphasizes the importance of helping the children build and repair the bicycle that they select so that they feel some ownership to that particular bicycle.
The kids not only learn about bike repair and maintenance, they also learn about bike safety, practice riding, and participate in the communal environment that has developed around the organization. In short, the environment expands the notion of “church”. As Martin puts it, “It becomes a place to come together and share a common love for something. In this case, the bicycle.”
Is there a bike recycling or salvage organization where you live? Have you been involved in such an organization? We would love to hear about it!