Support Your Local Teenager: Us

There are more than 1.4 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. Starting a nonprofit is relatively easy: see a need in your community, round up some dedicated volunteers, file the paperwork.

When Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop started in 2002, we were the only nonprofit bike shop in Snohomish County, committed to “connecting unused bikes to people who need wheels.”

We still serve that unique need. As a teenaged organization, we have matured in so many ways, but still need to grow up in others. One way we need to grow is in community support.

Donations from individuals like you are essential for the future of Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop.  Whether you give $25 or $250, your contribution demonstrates that the community supports our shop and our mission.

Of course, our bike shop is full of bikes and parts donated by community supporters – probably too full, but loving bikes is an occupational hazard for us. Luckily, bike sales have tripled in recent years – some customers come in to find a special bike and to support our mission, while other customers are the mission:

  • The 125 low income kids who will take a bike home for Christmas this month
  • Sally, who worked her way out of homelessness by using her bike to get to work at odd hours when buses don’t run;
  • Matt, the recovering addict who needed to fix his flat tire so he could ride to treatment
  • Jesse, who got a “new-to-him” road bike from Sharing Wheels and has lost 60 pounds riding everywhere with his caregiver

We know many customers by name because as a community bike shop, we don’t just sell bikes. We see people again and again. You drop by to borrow our tools, get a used part, or when to volunteer and pay forward the help we have given you.

Many of our services are free, but our rent, insurance, taxes, and staff are not. As we’ve grown, so has the cost and complexity of doing business.

Many nonprofits don’t make it to age 16. We are determined to keep serving the greater Everett area into adulthood. In 2019 we’ll be adopting a business plan and looking to expand our bike programs and partnerships. Your donation will help us grow up.

“My Bike Has Been Stolen”

A day does not go by without hearing about someone loosing their bike to a thief. Every one insists they had their bike locked up but I suspect they wouldn’t admit otherwise.

Bike-Thief-Story-Poster4213108548Bike theft in Everett and Snohomish County is on the rise. Some thieves are trying to get from point A to point B and sees an opportunity to do it easier and faster than walking. They often abandon the bike after getting to their destination. Some of the thieves sell the bike or trade for something they want, usually for pennies on the dollar. And sadly, some thieves turn the aluminum or steel bike into scrap for pennies per pound.

Many of us use our bikes for transportation to work, grocery shopping, school and anywhere else we want to go. Some of us have transportation choices and also have cars or trucks but choose to use our bikes, opting for an affordable and healthier way to travel. For some of us it is our only means of transportation, lacking the financial, legal means or desire for a motor vehicle.

Losing a bike can be especially hard on those with limited resources. Replacing what is taken can  be  hardship

It sounds silly but we have special bonds with our bikes. They give us the ability to move great distances under our own power allowing for self-sufficiency.

Those that steal bikes are heartless, the scum of the earth. There are movies produced on the theme of bike theft: Beijing Bicycle, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and The Bicycle Thief all showing how much the victim loved their bike and the great effort they are willing to go to get their bike back.

Sharing Wheels does not buy or trade bikes. We have a strict policy we adhere to in order to prevent accidentally obtaining stolen bikes. We rely strictly on donations. Some other bike shops and of course pawn shops buy bikes, making a great outlet for the thieves. The pawn shops are supposed to submit the serial numbers to the local police. There is no one database storing the reported thefts, allowing thieves to travel to neighboring cities and unload. These shops pay pennies on the dollar, begging the question, why would someone sell “their” bike for so little. By purchasing from these shops you contribute to the problem, creating a demand for stolen bikes.

There are some online bike registries. The  National Bike Registry and  Project 529 are two such sites. The City of Arlington Police Department also has a Bicycle Registry  program. Check these programs out if you want to register your bike.

Do the police care? Maybe, maybe not. But there is nothing they can do if you don’t report the theft. Only 56% of thefts are reported (I read that somewhere). When you make a report, you need to have some information from your bike that you write down before it is stolen.
Almost all bikes have a serial number usually located on the Bottom Bracket (the cylinder looking thing that the cranks and pedals come out of). Write down the serial number, make, model, and color down and put it in two different safe places with a good photo of your bike. That number is the one thing distinguishing your bike from other bikes, like the VIN number for a car. Without it, there is not much to be done.

To ovoid having to use this information, it’s important to prevent a theft. Some places you can bring your bike inside (hopefully your home is one of them). But even being inside doesn’t guarantee you will have your bike when you return. Open or unlocked garages can be an easy target. The more lock you can afford the better. Thieves are generally looking for the easy target, but they are getting more sophisticated. Check out Hal Ruzal of NY on how to properly lock up your bike .  To a Northwesterner,  New York city can seem like a crime mecca and Hal’s advice may seem appropriate for NYC, but what about here in Snohomish County? A day does not go by without me hearing about someone loosing their bike to a thief.