Do Good By Bike: Vol 10 – Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS

May 8th, 2018

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich communities all over through their two-wheeled advocacy. You can read our past #DoPublicGood profiles here. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if… Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich communities all over through their two-wheeled advocacy. You can read our past #DoPublicGood profiles here.

If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.


 

Family riding the Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS

 

May is ALS Awareness Month, which gives us the opportunity to shine a light on an incredible event PUBLIC bikes has supported since 2013: The Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS.  

The ride was founded in 2005 to support The ALS Association’s efforts to advance the search for effective treatments and cures for the disease.  Since then, it has raised more than $6.1 million; becoming the largest ALS charity ride in the world.

We interviewed Cliff Whitlock, Team Challenge ALS Director, about the past, present, and future of an event that is helping so many people battle a devastating disease.


Can you start by telling us a little bit about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)?

 

CLIFF:  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and more recently known from the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, is a fatal, neurodegenerative illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.  Within an average of 2-5 years, people with ALS lose the ability to walk, move, speak, swallow, and eventually, to breathe – all while the mind and senses usually continue to function normally.

ALS is not contagious and does not discriminate – it affects men and women of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic status around the world. There is no known cause and no way to substantially slow the disease.

Every 90 minutes, someone is diagnosed with ALS. Every 90 minutes, someone loses their battle.

 

How did the ride come about as a way to help fight the disease?

 

CLIFF:  The ALS Association already had walks to help raise funds and awareness for the disease, but our volunteers wanted to broaden that outreach to a ride. Coming together with a small group of dedicated business leaders and cyclists, they created the first Wine Country Ride to Defeat ALS, now known as the Napa Valley Ride.

While growing rapidly from a few hundred participants to more than one thousand in 14 years, the event has kept its family-friendly environment and mission-oriented sense of purpose. All of our attendees are able to have fun and celebrate the lives of people with ALS while working hard to raise funds for care services, public policy, and research to end the disease.

Driving awareness is another big aspect of the ride that helps us fight the disease. The more people who participate and donate, the more funding and volunteers we get – which is huge. Every person makes a difference in our organization.

The Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS has become the largest charity ride for ALS in the world. Last year, we had 1,150 total participants who raised $960,000; advancing The ALS Association’s search for effective treatments and cures for the disease.

 

Team (S)miles at the starting line.

 

Tell us more about the event and what the full experience is like.

 

CLIFF:  It truly is one of the most beautiful rides in the world, and right during harvest season so the aromas and sites are in peak form. We’re proud to have a route for any level of rider: 12 miles, 28 miles, 38 miles (new route), 62 mile Lite,  62 mile Challenge, or 100 miles. Each distance offers a beautiful day riding past vineyards, with rest stops every 10-20 miles and SAG (support and gear) vehicles to help along the way.

The ride ends with an incredible festival with live music from Santa Rosa’s own Kingsborough Band, a well deserved beer or glass of wine, delicious BBQ, ice cream, smoothie bikes, etc…

Many participants form a team of friends and family or a group of coworkers, or even sign up to ride on their own and make friends on the route! We ask all of our participants to pay a registration fee and raise a minimum of $150 before the day of the ride. These funds are put to use right away for critical research and care services for people living with ALS and their families. Plus, you’ll earn a Napa Valley Ride beer or wine glass and a pair of branded socks!

In addition to this there are other levels of fundraising incentives which include a really wonderful jersey when you raise $750 or more, and bike shorts when you raise more than $3,000!

Overall, it’s a rejoiceful day of exercise, food, wine, and community.

 

What are some stories from the ride that stand out to you?

 

CLIFF:  One story happened just last year. Matt Chaney, who has lived with ALS for more than 17 years, gifted his recumbent bike to another person recently diagnosed with ALS in hopes that he would get to enjoy it as much as he had when he was still able to ride. This is just one example of how dedicated Matt is to the ALS community and he has said to me that he feels lucky to have lived so long and so well with ALS. Matt continues to be an inspiration for so many living with the disease that you can live a productive and meaningful life. He has been the Co-Chair for the Napa Valley Ride for several years and continues to lead the event as a top fundraiser every year since he has been a part of it. His dedication and generosity really showed itself in 2017, when he gave his bike that he had ridden for more than a decade with ALS to another one of our riders who is living with the disease.

 

Matt Chaney with other members of the ride committee.

 

Another story that comes to mind has been happening for nearly every year of the Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS, all of our riders have been greeted at the Finish Line by the incredible team Kay’s Angels. This team spends the majority of the day with Kay Thomas, who has been living with ALS for more than 17 years, at the finish line cheering people as the end their incredible ride and give them celebration beads. Knowing that you have ridden many miles to be greeted by someone living with the disease adds a beautiful sense of purpose to our event. For many of us, Kay represents our “Never Give Up” spirit that we have on the back of all of our jerseys. Kay and her husband Phil Thomas are as dedicated today as they ever were in their efforts to create a world without ALS.

 

What is the future of the rides? What do you hope is next?

 

CLIFF:  The future is that we create a world without ALS. Ultimately, to turn this ride into a celebration of the lives of people we have lost to ALS and the lives we hope to save. In order to do that though, we need to continue to grow as an event, include more people in our efforts, and raise more so we can do more.

I see events like the AIDS/LifeCycle and Bike MS as examples of peer to peer events that can power change. Sure, a large donor or corporation could come in and donate a million dollars to our organization and have a transformational impact, but when we have more than 1,000 participants riding together and more than 7,000 donors supporting them, that fires us all up at a grassroots level. To me, it’s a sign that people really care, and that they are willing to make the world a better place for those that are suffering at the hands of a devastating disease.

Because of those cycling events that I mentioned and many other fundraising events, there have been significant advancements and even treatments for AIDS and Multiple Sclerosis. My hope is that within the next few years, hopefully sooner, we will see more breakthroughs as a direct result of our efforts through the Ride. We’re seeing more genes discovered related to ALS than ever before.  In fact, there was a new one just discovered last month (KIF5A). The ALS Association Golden West Chapter is now serving more people than ever in our chapter’s history, and the awareness has never been higher with the viral Ice Bucket Challenge and the recent diagnosis of celebrities like former 49er Hall of Famer Dwight Clark or the passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking and Sam Shepard.

All of these efforts, together, are culminating into real results and I am incredibly excited by the future. The people living with ALS and their families are the most inspiring people I have ever met. They show me, and all of us, that when the odds are stacked against you, you can either do nothing or do something. Our riders and supporters choose to do something.

 

Volunteers dressed as superheros.

 

How can people get involved in this year’s ride?

 

CLIFF:  Sign up to ride or volunteer! We’re offering all our PUBLIC friends 20% off registration when they use discount code DOGOOD

Register at:  www.NapaValleyRide.org

When: Saturday, September 22, 2018

Where: California Veterans Home in Yountville

Routes: 12-mi, 28-mi, 38-mi, 62-mi Lite, 62-mi Challenge, 100-mi, or Walk

 

Do Good By Bike: Vol 8 – The Mike’s Bikes Foundation’s Africa Projects

March 7th, 2018

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich communities all over through their two-wheeled advocacy. You can read our past #DoPublicGood profiles here. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if… Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich communities all over through their two-wheeled advocacy. You can read our past #DoPublicGood profiles here.

If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.


 

Ken Martin, Mike’s Bikes CEO, with Mike & Debbe, Bicycle Warehouse Owners, in Lesotho visiting Tumi, owner of a Mike’s Bikes Sister Shop.

 

This month we are proud to spotlight our partner, Mikes Bike’s, and their Africa Projects which help put bicycles directly in the hands of people in developing Africa. So far over 26,000 bikes have shipped, and the changes these bikes make in their communities and in the lives of the owners is profound.

We interviewed Ken Martin, CEO of Mike’s Bikes, who had just gotten back from delivering a shipment of bikes to Zimbabwe. Read below to hear him tell more about the Africa Projects and how you can get involved.


 

Please describe what the Africa Projects are all about.

We wanted a way for us to do a bike donation program that was cost effective and sustainable. Many of the bike donation programs give their bikes away for free, but for us it was key to create a sustainable program that taught the value of the bike.

We went through a few iterations of the projects to land where we are now, with four main distribution centers in Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho. Instead of handing out the bikes for free, our distribution partners in Africa sell them for the cost of shipping and import duty to local shops and business people who then sell the bikes into their local communities at affordable prices, using the capital to keep their shops running, hire local workers, and promote cycling. This helps with the long-term value and impact of the bicycles.

 

Mechanics all around Southern Africa are learning valuable skills in bicycle maintenance.

 

Tell us more about the local shops you sell to and how they help benefit the community.

When we began the program, we were helping to set up “Sister Shops” that would keep the bikes running after they were delivered to Africa. We quickly noticed that this was key in keeping the program sustainable. We were setting them up to function beyond our initial donations. They were using the tools we gave them to operate their own small business which then helped them provide for their family and give back to the community.

 

Tumi’s Bicycle Shop was initially set up as a “Sister Shop” but over the years has evolved into a bustling business in Maseru, and is looking at setting up a pump track next.

 

We decided to broaden our model and distribute to more shops and business people who could spread the value of the bike across Africa. We support them in developing their own individual business models in order to best service the area in which they live.

For example, in Roma, Lesotho they built a pump track and rent their bikes out to kids who want to ride. If a kid can’t afford to rent a bike, they can earn free rentals by working in the community garden, which then provides fresh produce for people in the area.

Another example is a woman named Aggie, who doesn’t run a shop but acts as an independent businesswoman who specializes in soft goods. Her bike is her only mode of transportation, and she uses it every day, rain or shine, to navigate her huge network of suppliers and customers. We are one of the distributors where she is able to get her supplies.

 

Can you highlight a personal story from one of your visits?

There are so many. The best are stories are when we get to see the passion the African people have for bikes.

The Lesotho Sky is a hardcore mountain bike stage race in Lesotho that top riders from over 21 countries come to compete in. Years ago, a 15-year-old named Mekke showed up with an old, beat-to-hell hybrid bike with bald tires, and wanted to ride. Although he couldn’t pay the entrance fee, ride organizers Christian and Darol let him ride because of the sheer devotion he showed for the sport. He didn’t win, but he didn’t come in last either. He became friends with Christian and Darol, our distribution partner outside Maseru, and he’s now working at the new bike shop there. Even without supplies, Mekke wanted to ride. Now with our program he gets to work every day doing what he loves, spreading his passion for bikes.

 

How can people get involved?

Donate your old bike and gear!

In Northern California, you can bring used bikes to any of our twelve Mike’s Bikes locations.

In Southern California, you can bring your used bikes to any Bicycle Warehouse or bring your used apparel and gear to one of Kit Up Africa’s drop off points, run by Adam Austin.

Full sustainability is the goal, but until we get there, the projects cost money to operate.  You can support our efforts monetarily by donating online.

 

Boitshepo Lesele racing in Botswana in apparel donated through Adam Austin’s program in Los Angeles.

 

 

Do Good By Bike: Vol 7 – Taking Protected Bicycle Lane Advocacy To The Streets

May 16th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. You can read our past #DoPublicGood profiles here. May is Bike Month and for #DoPublicGood we’re celebrating the people who standing up for bike safety across… Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. You can read our past #DoPublicGood profiles here.

May is Bike Month and for #DoPublicGood we’re celebrating the people who standing up for bike safety across the country. Last week we participated in a street action that we think could be replicated in many other cities to call attention to the need for more protected bicycle lanes.

A group of volunteer safe street activists in San Francisco showed up to form a human protected bicycle lane on the popular Valencia Street commuter route. Ever since the City of San Francisco installed bicycle lanes on both sides of Valencia Street in 1999, the street was generally viewed as a bicycle-friendly route, even featuring timed “green wave” traffic signals that allowed bicyclists to keep rolling through green lights as long as they averaged ~13mph bike-riding speed.

But especially with the rise of car share services like Uber and Lyft, which has transformed every bicycle lane or even street into a pick-up and drop-off location, many streets like Valencia Street have become notoriously unsafe for anyone traveling along the corridor. With many popular restaurants, bars, and shops on Valencia Street, it’s very typical for bicyclists to be forced to weave in and out of the bicycle lane because of cars temporarily blocking the bike lanes. Valencia Street, once considered a poster child for a bike-friendly street, is now considered a bicycling safety problem – and really, a problem for vehicular drivers too.

Many cities have been slow to respond with regulations and enforcement to respond to the rising problem of blocked streets and bicycle lanes, especially resulting from ride share cars stopping and going. This is why volunteer advocates are organizing to highlight these issues – and to pressure city officials to take action to make streets safer, including advocating for protected bicycle lanes. You can read about how “Safety Vigilantes Strike Again on Valencia” on Streetsblog.

Even in places like Omaha or Wichita, safe street advocates are resorting to gluing plungers to demonstrate the need and effectiveness of protected bicycle lanes.

If you live or work in San Francisco, the next human protected bike lane action is planned for Thursday, May 25 from 5-7pm. Sign up here receive communication.

If you’re fed up with lack of action in your city for protected bike lanes, maybe you can organize a small group of like-minded people to form your own guerrilla street group similar to SFMTrA. All you might need are some plungers, glue, cones, signs and passionate people.

Do Good By Bike: Vol 6 – San Francisco Yellow Bike Project

April 4th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate…. Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

We’re taking part too. Follow our Instagram Story (@publicbikes) each Thursday as we bike-courier food from a restaurant to shelter in San Francisco, CA.

san francisco yellow bike projectMobile Bike Shop at Civic Center Plaza in SF offering bike repairs. Photo by Mary Kay Chin.

In Volume 6 of #DoPublicGood, we interview Nathan Woody, Executive Director of The San Francisco Yellow Bike Project (SFYBP) in San Francisco, California. SFYPB works to empower the community through the bicycle, by refurbishing bikes for the young and young at heart and offering Earn-A-Bike programs. Read on for our full Q&A with Nathan to learn more about the inspiring work done by SFYPB.

PUBLIC: Please describe what your project is all about?
Nathan: The San Francisco Yellow Bike Project is a grassroots, pop-up, do-it-yourself, community-building machine that brings dead bikes back to life and puts more city dwellers on two wheels. It’s a healthy revolution for San Francisco.

We offer community shop nights, access to inexpensive bike parts and refurbished bicycles, bike swaps for kids, and other programming that lowers to barriers to riding and creates a sense of community around the bike.

san francisco yellow bike projectPaddy showing volunteer, Lauren how to level a bike saddle. Photo by Nathan Woody.

PUBLIC: Talk to us about your Earn-A-Bike Program?
Nathan: Our Earn-a-Bike program is a way for people with limited financial means to acquire a bicycle. The participant pays a low sliding scale program fee then refurbishes the bicycle themselves, learning some mechanical skills along the way. In some cases volunteers complete administrative tasks or other non-mechanical jobs that Yellow Bike needs to have done. The only catch, with our tiny shop, is that participants take the bike with them from the shop after the program fee is paid.

PUBLIC: Please describe the Kids Program?
Nathan: A couple of times each year we gather up 10-20 kids’ bikes and get them fixed up and ready for their next owner. Working with a partner organization (like a school or neighborhood center) we identify a group of kids with bikes they’ve outgrown or non-functional bicycles and hold a Kids’ Bike Swap for them. They bring their old bike and swap it for a new-to-them bike that fits. Those without a bike to swap can pay $0-$40 on a sliding scale to pick one up that works for them. We have no other program that provides more excitement and hope for the future, and it’s one of our volunteers’ favorite programs–it brings smiles galore to everyone who participates, kids and volunteers.

san francisco yellow bike projectHoward, learning to ride at a Tenderloin Kids’ Bike Swap with a bike he received from SFYBP. Photo Mary Kay Chin.

PUBLIC: Can you highlight a few examples of people your program has helped?
Nathan: We have helped people who range from kids from the Tenderloin to SF City Supervisors Eric Mar and Jane Kim, and treat everyone with equal respect. We have helped people with $0 in their pockets to get their bike up and running. We have helped people with a functional bike find a community where they are welcomed and a part of something that allows them to give back. We have helped empower countless shop users with our DIY approach to bike repair that demystifies the machine and creates access to tools and knowledge.

Specifically Howard comes to mind. He was 5 years old and came to a Tenderloin bike swap with nothing. He left having learned how to ride without training wheels on his new-to-him bike. Or perhaps Ellis, a neighbor who became a shop user, who became a volunteer, who became a key holder, until eventually we all just became “yellow bike fam”, his bicycling community. Or Mia, a Swiss traveler that bought a bike, strapped her backpack to it, and a couple days later, rode to Los Angeles.

PUBLIC: In your words, why is the bicycle able to change lives?
Nathan: The bicycle is a perfect form of transportation for humans. Efficient, affordable, and reliable, bicycles are very much the ultimate utilitarian vehicle. It is a social medium, a therapist, a political statement, an environmental protest or celebration, a personal trainer, a dear friend, an emergency vehicle, and so much more. The bicycle changes lives because it provides freedom to people that use it. I understand that the bicycle doesn’t “suit” everyone, and that’s ok. The people it does suit are rewarded in many ways and the world is better as a result.

san francisco yellow bike projectCore SFYBP volunteer, Rezz picking up donated bikes and moving them into storage. Photo by Nathan Woody.

PUBLIC: How can people get involved with San Francisco Yellow Bike? Are you looking for volunteers?
Nathan: SFYBP is always looking for more people with time and energy to support our cause!. We’ve made it 6 years in SF as a 100% volunteer-run, donation-based organization thanks to the dedication of our community and volunteers. We are seeking all levels and kinds of involvement, everything from non-profit administration down to fixing flats and teaching kids how to ride. One piece of our core mission is education through volunteerism, so if anyone wants to learn bike repair in a low-stakes environment they should come to our community shop nights, currently 6-9 pm Monday. Wednesday and Thursday evenings (and consider becoming a regular shop night volunteer!). To provide help on the administrative level, please email our Executive Director, Nathan Woody at Nathan@sfyellowbike.org

san francisco yellow bike projectMia, a traveler from Switzerland, bought a bike from SFYBP and headed to LA on it the next day. Photo by Nathan Woody.

PUBLIC: Anything else you’d like to add?
Nathan: SFYBP was founded in 2011 as a response to the SF Board of Supervisors’ goal of reaching 20% bicycle transportation mode share by the year 2020. In a city suffering from social justice inequality and wealth stratification, SFYBP exists to serve all those that want our help. We do not judge by gender or race or socioeconomic status. We help people that respect our shop, our tools and our time. We help, we help others, we help others help, we help others help others.

Do Good By Bike: Vol 5 – Good Karma Bikes

February 28th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate…. Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

We’re taking part too. Follow our Instagram Story (@publicbikes) each Thursday as we bike-courier food from a restaurant to shelter in San Francisco, CA.

do good by bike

In Volume 5 of #DoPublicGood, we interview Cindy Ahola, Vice President of Operations at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, California. Good Karma Bikes is aptly named, it’s a full-service, second-hand bike shop whose proceeds support under-resourced youth, low-income families and the homeless. Read on for our full Q&A with Cindy to learn more about the inspiring work done by Good Karma Bikes.

good karma bikes

“We believe bicycles provide an ability to make a living, to be independent, and to make contributions to your world.”
– Cindy Ahola

PUBLIC: Please describe what Good Karma Bikes is all about?
Cindy: Good Karma Bikes is a nonprofit social enterprise. We are a full-service, second-hand bike shop that’s open to the public. Our revenue supports programs serving low income families, homeless individuals, and under-resourced young people, with a special focus on the support and education of former foster youth.

We started in 2009 as a mobile operation fixing bikes for free at shelters, soup kitchens and encampments. In 2013, the social enterprise was born and the sale of bicycles supported expanded free services for our clients. In 2014, we recognized a common factor among the clients we were serving — many of them had been in the foster care system. It was then we knew we had to add a new focus: prevention.

We serve and enhance our community by offering safe, reliable transportation with refurbished bicycles kept from the landfill. Today, not only do we continue to provide the same services we established at the very beginning, but we also work toward preventing the very issues our current clients confront; homelessness, incarceration, insufficient education and more.

good karma bikes

PUBLIC: Talk to us about your College Outreach & Opportunity Program?
Cindy: 70% of California inmates are wards of court or were in foster care, and nationally 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care.* In our two-year program, former foster youth move from feeling disenfranchised and vulnerable to becoming self-sufficient, confident, and productive members of society.

Youth receive intensive two-year case management, both in-house and with our partners. As part of this program, youth are stably housed, trained in bike mechanics and retail, work in our shop, attend life skills seminars, prepare for and attend college, volunteer in the community, and become mentors to new youth entering the program.

PUBLIC: Please describe how your Bike Voucher Program works?
Cindy: Good Karma Bikes has several programs whereby low-income individuals can acquire a bicycle at low or no cost. Our most popular program is our Work-To-Earn Bicycle Program. Any individual can volunteer for six hours at Good Karma Bikes and earn a $100 bicycle. While they work, the bicycle fitting their needs is refurbished by another volunteer. Upon completion of required hours, they can ride away on their “new” bicycle. We’re proud of the fact that so many continue on to volunteer, even after they’ve earned their bicycle.

do good by bike

PUBLIC: Can you highlight a few examples of people your program has helped?
Cindy: Many of our Work-To-Earn volunteers and Free Repair Clinic clients are low-income and homeless individuals who have jobs and rely on bicycles as their primary transportation. A missed day of work can mean the difference between keeping that job and losing it. Having a reliable mode of transportation each day means one more day of success. A volunteer recently shared how important it was for him to know he could “get up and go to a job and be something each day.”

Some of our Work-To-Earn volunteers feel they don’t add value to the world. As a volunteer, they can learn basic repairs and fix others’ bikes. Many tell us how glad they are to learn a useful skill and how good they feel doing something for others.

One of our program youth began two years ago shy, overweight, knew little about and rarely rode a bicycle. Less than one year in the program, he’d overhauled and upgraded his bike to the envy of all in the shop. He rode everywhere (even 20 miles to school), talked to people at red lights, lost weight, mentored new mechanics, and inspired his family and friends to ride. He even won Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s Commuter of the Year in 2016**. He’s since graduated the program and is in school full-time. This young man changed the course of his life with a bicycle.

We are privileged to work alongside so many people as they change their lives and the lives of others.

do good by bike

PUBLIC: In your words, why is the bicycle able to change lives?
Cindy: In order to survive in this world, you have to have transportation. We believe bicycles provide an ability to make a living — to be independent and to make contributions to your world.

good karma bikes

PUBLIC: How can people get involved with Good Karma Bikes?
Cindy: All of our bicycles are donated. If you would like to donate a bicycle, we will gladly take yours and provide a complete overhaul and warranty for its new owner. Check our website for information and shop hours

We rely heavily on our amazing team of volunteers to make all this magic happen. And you don’t even need to be a bike mechanic! We can teach you that. Or come in and help us behind the scenes. If you’re interested in volunteering, email volunteer@goodkarmabikes.org.

Of course, we’d love to say hi and tell you more in person! Visit our shop at 460 Lincoln Avenue in San Jose or email us at goodkarma@goodkarmabikes.org.


* California Senate Office of Research, December 2011 Policy Matters “State survey of California prisoners: What percentage of the state’s polled prison inmates Were once foster care children?”

*Foster Focus Online Magazine “Foster Care and Homelessness” By Shalita O’Neale.

**Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Connecting Our Communities, “Meet Silicon Valley’s 2016 Bicycle Commuters of the Year” by Carlos V., May 11, 2016

Do Good By Bike: Vol 4 – New Standard Cycles

January 29th, 2017

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate…. Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

We’re taking part too. Follow our Instagram Story (@publicbikes) each Thursday as we bike-courier food from a restaurant to shelter in San Francisco, CA.

new standard cycles

In partnership with Blessings in a Book Bag, a nonprofit that provides services to children in need, SBC refurbishes bicycles and distributes them to kids every holiday season.

In Volume 4 of #DoPublicGood, we interview John Bennett, executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign in Savannah, Georgia and founder of New Standard Cycles (NSC). NSC is an inspiring program that refurbishes donated bikes and, with the help of a local nonprofit, gives those bikes to people in the community to whom a bike could change their lives. They also offer bicycle repair classes and bicycle repair options for those who can’t afford it. Read on for our full Q&A with John and more pictures of the incredible work NSC does.

new standard cycles

New Standard Cycles volunteers sort parts and prepare them for reuse.

“Our nonprofit partners know their clients and recognize that bicycles can be life changing for them.”
– John Bennett

PUBLIC: Please tell us a little about where you work and what you do.
John: I am executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, a nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization founded in 2008 in Savannah, Ga. I’ve served in this position for about three and a half years. I was one of the organization’s co-founders. In my job I work with government officials to improve and expand our bicycle infrastructure network, provide education programs for children and adults, and organize events to encourage people to make bicycling a healthy part of their daily lives.

new standard cycles

Jen Colestock of SBC’s New Standard Cycles program introduces recently arrived refugees to their new bicycles. The recipients, who are chosen by Lutheran Services of Georgia’s refugee services office, use the bikes to start new jobs and new lives in our country.

PUBLIC: What does New Standard Cycles do?
John: Our program accepts donated bicycles, which are then refurbished by volunteers. We have established partnerships with nonprofit organizations and they identify recipients, for whom a bike can be the deciding factor in getting and keeping a job, going to school, remaining in a treatment program, or staying out of jail. Our nonprofit partners know their clients and recognize that bicycles can be life changing for them. Along with each bike, we also provide lights, a lock, a helmet, and a reflective vest. We also do a holiday bike drive, which provides bikes to children in underserved communities. Finally, we offer bicycle repair classes through a program called the Society of Important Cycling Knowledge (SICK). The goal is to teach people to handle basic bike repairs and maintenance tasks to keep their bikes running safely and smoothly in a friendly and fun environment.

new standard cycles

Savannah has the highest bicycle commuting rate in Georgia and SBC works to encourage more people to ride to work and other destinations.

PUBLIC: How did the idea for New Standard Cycles come about?
John: New Standard Cycles is based on a program operated by our friends at Bike Athens in Athens, Ga. We took their model and adapted it to Savannah. We have the highest rate of bicycle commuting in Georgia and many households that do not have access to motor vehicles. This is a city where thousands of people travel to work and other important destinations by bicycle every day. The building in which we are located began its life as a Standard Oil gas station in 1925, so the name New Standard Cycles is meant to acknowledge that history, but also reinforce the idea that bicycles can provide a new standard of mobility and economic empowerment for people in need.

PUBLIC: What do the people who receive donated bikes from NSC use them for
John: Our first bike went to a client, identified by Lutheran Services of Georgia’s refugee relocation service, who had served as a translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He and his daughter were relocated to Savannah and he was hired at a hotel. Commuting to work by bike is faster and more flexible than taking public transit, so the bike we gave him allows him a viable way to get to his job, but also allows him to spend more time with his daughter before and after his shift. A more recent recipient was referred by Emmaus House, an organization that provides meals and other service to homeless people. She had recently moved out of a homeless camp into a more stable housing situation and was entering a job training program. The bike she received from us came along at just the right time for her. And this is what makes our relationships with other local nonprofits so effective. They watch for those precise moments when having safe, affordable, and dependable transportation can make all the difference in the world for someone who’s striving for a better life.

new standard cycles

SBC offers education programs for children, including bicycle rodeos and safe cycling programs at Girl Scout Camp.

PUBLIC: To date, how many adult and kids bikes have you given out?
John: At this point we refurbish about 100 bikes per year. We also provide minor repairs for people who cannot afford to have their bikes serviced at local bike shops.

PUBLIC: How can people get involved in NSC?
John: We have weekly volunteer sessions, which are managed by professional mechanic. Our volunteers are a mix of people who are capable bike mechanics and those who want to become more competent in maintaining their own bikes. They learn while serving others. We welcome anyone who wants to make life better for their fellow citizens.

new standard cycles

SBC organizes casual, family friendly rides to encourage people to explore Savannah by bike.

PUBLIC: Anything else you’d like to add?
John: Savannah has great potential as a cycling community. We have level terrain, a mild climate (except for July and August), a beautiful natural environment, and historic and cultural resources that attract tens of millions of visitors to our city every year. Savannah’s original city plan, developed by Gen. James Oglethorpe in 1733, has proved durable and sensible guide and is being used as a model by cities around the globe today. Although Oglethorpe predated bicycles by more than century, his city plan creates calm, beautiful, bikeable streets. Unfortunately, parts of his historic plan were obliterated to make way for automobiles. Working with our community partners, we aim to restore and expand the Oglethorpe Plan to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can live comfortably in Savannah without a car.

Do Good By Bike: Vol 3 – The Burrito Project

December 21st, 2016

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. In this Q&A, The Burrito Project shares their mission to fight hunger in their community by making and delivering burritos by bike. If you have… Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. In this Q&A, The Burrito Project shares their mission to fight hunger in their community by making and delivering burritos by bike.

If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected, we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

In January 2017 we’re featuring The Burrito Project in San Francisco. This local group is one of many local volunteer groups under the same umbrella Burrito Project name. The volunteers of The Burrito Project mainly deliver burritos by bicycle to the community living on the street.

 

We interviewed Jimmy Ryan, one of the main leaders of the San Francisco volunteer group. If you’re in San Francisco, follow this local volunteer group on Facebook or Instagram. Read below as Jimmy Ryan responds to our questions about the group and how people can get involved or start their own similar group.

What’s the inspiration behind the Burrito Project?
The inspiration for us here in SF came about because I used to volunteer with the LA Burrito Project. I started volunteering at a soup kitchen in the Mission about a year ago which inspired me to start our very own Burrito Project here in SF. After a few discussions with the folks at the soup kitchen they agreed to host us and we started Burrito Project SF. The idea is to produce healthy, vegan food and deliver them to folks who need them all over the city. It also helps that I grew up working at my family’s restaurants. I love being able to help feed people who need it.

Who’s behind the Burrito Project and how often are you feeding the hungry?
I started the Burrito Project SF with a lot of support from the soup kitchen in the Mission and other friends who I’d been volunteering with. Since starting it up, a few core volunteers have stepped up and formed an informal committee to help in various ways from recruiting more volunteers, managing our website & social media, shopping for ingredients, and sponsoring the event. Right now there are about 5-6 of us who meet monthly and help plan each event which happens once a month on the last Monday of every month. We have a lot of repeat volunteers but also we get a lot of first time volunteers too. It’s great to meet so many awesome people who are willing to donate theirtime once a month. We are 100% volunteer run.

According to the Burrito Project website maintained by the Portland group, there are over 30 projects operating in North America. Do these various local groups exchange info?
Yes and no. There is no formal coordination between the groups but everyone. I’ve reached out to in other cities has been helpful and supportive in helping get ours up and running. Each city is unique so there are different challenges and logistics necessary in each location. Every month we are learning more and trying to improve the project so we can expand and reach even more people in a sustainable way.

What kind of support do you need and how can people help and get connected with you?
We always can use volunteers! Each month it takes about 15-20 people to 
prep the food, assemble the burritos, and deliver them. We are also looking for donations that includes ingredients like pinto beans, rice, cilantro, and canned tomatoes or cash donations to help fund the next event. We are 100% volunteer run, so ALL donations go directly to feeding folks living on the street. For $15 we can feed about 20 people.

What suggestions and tips do you recommend for others who might want to start a similar initiative?
Go for it! It’s really fulfilling and even though it might seem overwhelming to get started, it’s totally worth it. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Find a group of friends, colleagues, or other like minded folks that want to help out and work together. Start small. Even feeding 10 people per month is making a difference. Once you get the hang of things, you can slowly scale up and reach even more people.

Homelessness is a multi-faceted challenge. How do you envision this project in the continuum of other services to help the hungry and the homeless?
To be honest, I’m not sure we have thought that far ahead yet. We envision helping out with toiletries and environmentally friendly water in the near future. Our partners at the soup kitchen have been doing this work longer than we have and they provide a lot of services in addition to the meals they serve seven days a week. When we deliver burritos we also hand out cards with the hours the soup kitchen is open and encourage them to visit them.

Do Good By Bike: Vol 2 – Project Roundup

November 22nd, 2016

#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. After launching this project, we received several recommendations of other groups doing good in the world by bicycle. Here are their stories. If you have… Read more »

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#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. After launching this project, we received several recommendations of other groups doing good in the world by bicycle. Here are their stories.

If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected, we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

Cycling Without Age

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Bicycles are great, but many older citizens don’t have the strength or stamina to ride. Copenhagen’s Ole Kassow of Cycling Without Age saw an opportunity. In 2012, he broke out a trishaw and began giving free rides to nursing home residents. It gives them a chance to converse, tell stories and share their lives. His program has grown into an international organization with affiliates in dozens of countries.

World Bicycle Relief

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Can bicycle riding help lead to prosperity and economic relief? World Bicycle Relief provides locally made, specially created bicycles to entrepreneurs, students and medical workers all across Africa. The recipients can study to own, or work to own, their bicycle. Over time, they’ve built a thorough infrastructure of mechanics and repair facilities. Since 2005, the program has grown — in 2014 more than 50,000 bikes were distributed.

Denver Food Rescue

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Did you know that more than 30 to 50 percent of edible food is wasted in the United States every day? Yet many people don’t get fresh fruits and vegetable needed to keep them healthy. Denver Food Rescue uses bikes to take food from grocers and farmer markets to No Cost Grocery Programs. Bicycles allow them to redistribute healthy food that otherwise gets wasted to needy folks in hard-to-access neighborhoods and towns.

Waterside Workshops

Marsalis Johnson, center, a former intern and now mechanic, assists a customer at Street Level Cycles a part of Waterside Workshops in Berkeley, California, February 20, 2015.

At Waterside Workshops, they wanted to help develop happy, productive youth, encourage healthy living and promote positive social change in the Bay Area. To meet these goals, they began offering classes, job training, and places for local youth to relax and get involved in fun activities. They provide a full city bike shop and repair area to the community — staffed by adult artists, teachers and mechanics, as well as local youth, learning side by side and building community.

Do Good By Bike: Vol 1 – Introducing The #DoPublicGood Project

October 31st, 2016

There’s a lot of good in this world and we want to make it known. Starting this month, we’re launching the #DoPublicGood project. Each month we’ll highlight people or organizations that do good by bike. And we’ll be taking part ourselves. Follow us on Snapchat (publicbikes) and every Thursday watch our story as we pick up donated… Read more »

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do public good

Image via Blog Spot

There’s a lot of good in this world and we want to make it known. Starting this month, we’re launching the #DoPublicGood project. Each month we’ll highlight people or organizations that do good by bike. And we’ll be taking part ourselves. Follow us on Snapchat (publicbikes) and every Thursday watch our story as we pick up donated food and bike it to a shelter in the Bay Area through Food Runners.

If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected, we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.

do public good

Image by Jenny Oh Hatfield

For November we thought it fitting to highlight a very special Bay Area bike event that takes place just once a year around this time called Supermarket Street Sweep. It’s an “allycat” or urban bike race-style event where volunteers courier pounds of food from participating grocery stores via their bikes to a local food bank.

Supermarket Street Sweep is in its 11th year, and it almost went into extinction until the San Francisco Cycling Club decided to take up the reigns just a few months ago. (Kudos to you SFCC!)

One of Supermarket Street Sweep’s original founders, Jenny Oh Hatfield, explains the premise, “For our event, participants buy food from a list of participating shops and that food is directly donated to the SF & Marin Food Banks at the end of the event. Cyclists can compete in three categories: SPEED (bring back the required amount of food the fastest within the race’s time limit); CARGO (bring back the most food); TEAM (this is a new category and up to 5 people can work together to bring back the most food.) Racers carry back their hauls — via backpacks, panniers, cargo bikes and trailers — and all of the groceries are weighed by the food bank and our team of volunteers.”

do public good

Image by Jenny Oh Hatfield

You don’t have to be a hardcore cyclist to participate. Hatfield says that part of the fun is seeing the diverse group of riders that this event brings. “We get road racers, commuters and even kids who have a ton of fun helping such an important charity. We structure the format so if you wanted, you could spend the afternoon riding around with your friends and bring back as much food as you like to the food bank.”

do public good

Image by Jenny Oh Hatfield

And the amount of food people transport on two wheels for the event is incredible. In 2015 over a hundred racers took part and hauled more than 12,200 lbs of food. One racer alone carted over 1,000 lbs!

Registration is open for this year’s Supermarket Street Sweep that takes place on Saturday, December 3rd 2016. Stay up to date on announcements and prize previews on Instagram and Twitter (sfstreetsweep). If you’re not in the Bay Area, you can still get involved by visiting cranksgiving.org to find a similar event in your neighborhood.