Categories
News

Bikes Still Mean Freedom

Older man stands with his bike at bus station
Gary loves his “new” Univega Range Rover.

By Kristin Kinnamon, Board President

Remember the joy of riding a bicycle as a child? Your whole world expanded because you could coast on two wheels.

2020 has been a year of limitations for all of us – where we go, who we see, how close we can get. Being on a bicycle still feels freeing, though.

Despite major changes to our usual kids bike events this year, Sharing Wheels volunteers refurbished about 150 bikes matched with low income families. While many volunteers stayed home due to COVID, you took bikes home to repair and bring back.

Affordable bikes were sold out at retail bike shops, but we still had – and have – a great variety to choose from. We’ve been able to keep up with record demand thanks to hundreds of bicycle donations (prompted by COVID-inspired cleaning).

I helped many people pick out their first bike in years. Customers bought bikes to use for transportation, to make up for closed gyms, to have a healthy way for families to be together outside. Biking has been an important escape for so many of us, myself included. Riding into the shop across the tidally-influenced Snohomish River reminds me that the world is still out there, ebbing and flowing.

An 80-year-old with a tear in his eye told me: “This is the best bike I’ve ever had in my life.” Gary got his refurbished Univega Range Rover from Sharing Wheels as part of a grant program funded by the City of Everett. The bike had fenders, a rack, and a bag full of tools to fix a flat tire – a skill participants learned as part of the program. Gary and I were at Everett Station, practicing how to put his new, lightweight bike on the bus.

Gary described his son as his caretaker, but the bike means Gary can get around on his own. Next year, riding 200 miles from Seattle to Portland is on Gary’s bucket list.

Bikes mean freedom, no matter your age.

Support our work with a year-end donation.

Categories
Donations News

Learn & Earn-A-Bike 2020

This year, despite COVID challenges, we managed a City of Everett grant-funded program that provided bikes and bike training to low income adults. Most will be using the bikes for everyday transportation, including Traci, a mom of 4 kids.

After a difficult marriage to a veteran with PTSD, Traci is now divorced, living with her mom, and back at school to become a pastry chef. She doesn’t own a car. “Now I know how I’m going to get to class,” she said. It’s the first bike she’s had since growing up in Montana. Here in Washington, she’ll combine her bike with a bus ride to get from south Everett to Edmonds Community College.

Traci’s 17-year-old daughter hopes to come in to Sharing Wheels to earn her own bike, and to help fix bikes for the littler kids. The Sharing Wheels shop is now a resource for the whole family.

We had 11 people complete the program, all low income Everett residents. Most were referred by partners such as HopeWorks or Domestic Violence Services.

Participants started by meeting the Shop Manager Alain to select a suitable bike. Then they got a one-on-one “fix a flat” and basic maintenance class from Alain. Finally, when their bike was tuned up and fully equipped with fenders, rack and other accessories, we took people on a practice ride around Everett.

An 80-year-old with a tear in his eye told us: “This is the best bike I’ve ever had in my life.” Gary and I were at Everett Station, practicing how to put his refurbished Univega Range Rover on the bus.

Gary described his son as his caretaker, but the bike means Gary can get around on his own. Next year, riding 200 miles from Seattle to Portland is on Gary’s bucket list. Bikes mean freedom, no matter your age.

While our “Earn-A-Bike” grant is over, Sharing Wheels has always found ways to make bikes affordable for people who need them. Donors – of bikes and cash – support programs such as Work for Wheels and free access to the shop for do-it-yourself repairs and advice.