The Forest Preserve District is setting the wheels in motion for more bike donations during its "Recycle Your Bicycle" program in April.
If you have a bike that is no longer being used and is just sitting in your garage collecting dust, consider donating it during this event. Bikes will be collected from Tuesday, April 17, to Sunday, April 29, at two locations: 6 a.m.-5 p.m. at Monee Reservoir or 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Plum Creek Nature Center. Bikes can be new, used or in need of repairs.
Last year, 175 bikes were donated, the most since the program began in 2011. To date, almost 700 bikes have been collected through the program, which has grown from an annual event to a semiannual program held in April and October.
During each collection, all kinds of bicycles are donated, from mountain bikes to street bikes and in both adult and kids sizes.
After the bikes are collected, they will be picked up by Chicago-based Working Bikes. According to the agency’s annual report, Working Bikes donated 8,430 bikes to partner agencies in 2017. More than 6,000 of the collected bikes were shipped to international partner organizations; around 1,000 were donated to people living in the Chicagoland area. Others were sold to raise money for the nonprofit organization's operations.
The report includes examples of how the bikes help individuals internationally. For instance, Working Bikes sent two shipping containers with 887 bikes to the Chipego Bike Project in Nakatindi Village, Zambia, which is operated by five local women.
“Donating a bike to Working Bikes allows the Chipego women to give bikes to the students at the Nakatindi primary school so they can make the 5 mile ride as they move on to the secondary school in Livingstone,” the report stated.
In addition to Zambia, bikes also were shipped to Botswana, Malawi, Uganda, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Jordan, the Dominican Republic and Ghana.
Closer to home, the group's Cycle of Power program refurbished and provided 379 bikes to adults in need of sustainable transportation. Bikes also were given to an organization that provided bicycles to patients with a diagnosis of depression or diabetes. Working Bikes also has an apprenticeship program where it teaches teens and young adults bicycle mechanics and refurbishment skills.
On its website, the group explains how it is helping people near and far as they try to meet life's daily challenges.
"In areas plagued by poverty, high levels of unemployment and lack of reliable, accessible transportation, a bicycle can help provide access to jobs, education, medical attention, and other resources."
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