Changing lives, one bike at a time
Daniel Island-based Cooper River Cycles is one of the many local bicycle shops in the Lowcountry that participate as a drop-off location for the “Bikes for the World” campaign, a non-profit humanitarian group and volunteer network that collect thousands of used bicycles, bike parts and tools to deliver to community programs in developing countries across the world.
According to the organization’s website, its mission is two fold: “To make quality used bicycles and parts affordable and available to lower income people and select institutions in developing countries, to enhance their lives and livelihoods through better transport;” and “to generate skilled employment in bicycle repair and maintenance overseas, and to provide satisfying environmental and humanitarian community service opportunities for volunteers in the United States.”
The foundation was founded in January 2005 by Keith Oberg as a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. In their first year, they donated more than 5,000 bikes. By collecting an average of 10,000 bikes annually, Bikes for the World has managed to donate over 120,000 used bicycles, in turn “delivering hope and opportunity to nearly half a million people,” the website reads.
Cooper River Cycles donates anywhere from two to 10 bikes every two weeks, stated store manager K.C. Hazelwood.
“We collect the bikes here and we try to, when we have time, kind of check them and get everything running as smoothly as we can, but they also have a lot of volunteers that help with that as they pack them up and get them ready to ship overseas,” said Hazelwood. “Occasionally, we will have somebody come in and bring in a bike that needs some work. We’ll let them know how much it’s going to be and sometimes they’ll decide to buy a new one. In a case like that, we’ll suggest that if they donate the old bike, we have a group that will take it and make sure it gets to somebody who needs it.”
Bikes for the World also humbly requests that a $10 donation be made with every bike to aid in paying for repairs and parts, explained Hazelwood.
“The bikes that we will get will be in various states of disrepair,” he said. “Some of them need a lot, some of them need a little, but that kind of helps [the foundation] cover their cost.”
The foundation not only provides affordable transportation to laborers, teachers, students, farmers, health workers and small business owners from around the world, they also build skills for employment in receiving countries and in the U.S., according to the website.
Since its inception in 2005, Bikes for the World has grown significantly and is now the nation’s largest bicycle reuse program. By collecting used bicycles and distributing them to those who need them across the globe, the foundation is changing lives one bike at a time.
“A bicycle can get someone, someplace...like from poverty to self-sufficiency,” the website states.
In addition to Cooper River Cycles, donated bikes can also be dropped off at the following Lowcountry locations: Affordabike, 573 King St., Charleston; Area 51 Bicycle Shop, 8350 Dorchester Rd., North Charleston; The Bicycle Shoppe, 280 Meeting St., Charleston; The Bicycle Shoppe, 1539 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mount Pleasant; Main Street Bicycle Shop, 109 N. Main St., Summerville; Mike’s Bikes, 808 Folly Rd., Charleston; Mike’s Bikes, 709 Coleman Blvd., Mount Pleasant; Ride Bikes, 1055 St. Andrews Blvd., West Ashley; Sweetgrass Cycles, 234 Mathis Ferry Rd., Mount Pleasant; Trek Bike Store, 1180 Oakland Market Blvd., Mount Pleasant; and Trek Bicycle Store of West Ashley, 2408 Ashley River Rd., Charleston.
For additional information, visit http://www.bikesfortheworld.org.