The big bike giveaway

Needy kids get unwanted bikes for Christmas

Cyclists in the US and the UK have been getting into the season of goodwill by handing on unwanted bikes.

Projects on both sides of the Atlantic have found deserving new homes for cycles which have been usurped by two-wheeled Christmas presents.

Children have been given bikes which are no longer wanted, and have also benefited from prison programs where inmates refurbish bikes for needy families.

Families from Kansas and Missouri picked up cycles from the Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas just before the holidays.

The unit’s Bike Giveaway Program has handed out more than 500 bikes each Christmas for the last three years.

The bike crew’s members work for 60 cents a day for the non-profit program, which started by giving away 25 bikes in 1999 and grew from there.

Crew member Bob Hemphill said he felt lucky to be working on the project. “I have kids and grandkids of my own, so I’ve seen the smiles before.”

In PutnamCounty in Tennessee the first year of a collection program organised by the Sheriff David Andrews has seen 90 bikes go to needy families.

They were handed out to children aged three to 16 and came solely from local donations. "We had private donations, anonymous donations. A lot of bikes were brought in. It was a very successful program.

"I think we touched a lot of kids' lives. Hopefully we've made a merrier Christmas for a lot of kids," he added.

Sheriff Andrews had only expected to get about 40 bikes, so was delighted when the total donated reached double his original estimate.

Meanwhile, in Blackpool in the UK the local council is appealing for children who've been given a bike for Christmas to give their old one to a worthy cause.

The bikes will be refurbished and used during free cycle safety training provided at local schools and youth groups. Often children can’t take part in the sessions because they don’t have their own bike.

Carol Bracegirdle, of Blackpool Council's travel and road safety team, said: "Cycling is an excellent form of exercise but can be dangerous if cyclists are not aware of the rules of the road and are not taught how to ride safely.

"The fact that people do not have a roadworthy bike should not be a prohibitive factor," she added. "I would urge people who are lucky enough to receive a new bicycle for Christmas to donate their old one to such a worthwhile cause instead of throwing it on to the tip."

The group can also use broken bikes for spare parts, so nothing is wasted.

Prison bike refurbishment programs and council cycle collection schemes are common in both the US and the UK, so if you’ve got a bike gathering dust there’s usually a way to pass it on to someone who’ll appreciate it.

© BikeRadar 2007

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