When it comes to low-cost transportation and exercise, nothing compares to a bike. But you’re more likely to see people commuting to work and school in high-income communities than in low-income ones.
Toledo Bikes! is looking to change that dynamic by spreading the benefits of cycling to people of all income levels.
The Ohio nonprofit recovers used bicycles and refurbishes them while also teaching low-income kids and adults how to make repairs. People can volunteer in the repair shop, and once they fulfill a certain number of hours, they are given a bicycle of their own. Last year, the center racked up 848 volunteer hours, and 44 people earned their own wheels.
Toledo Bikes! also donates bicycles to community organizations and sells them at affordable prices, using the profits to keep its programs running.
This year, Toledo’s Hawkins Elementary School held a bike-themed essay competition. The 12 kids who wrote the best compositions explaining why they’d like a bicycle got to ride one home, supplied by Toledo Bikes! Even those who didn’t win one were able to enroll in one of the center’s build-a-bike or bike maintenance classes.
Erik Thomas of Toledo Bikes! told Eric Wildstein of WNWO that kids who start out taking classes are apt to return to the bike shop. “A lot of them we see coming back over the years as they’ve grown up,” he said. “They’ve gotten their first job, they need transportation, they’ll come in here and earn some hours.”