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Have an old bike? 'Roll it forward,' group says

Posted by Sarah Thomas  November 3, 2010 05:58 PM

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There are probably few more infuriating moments in the life of an avid cyclist than seeing someone else ride down the street on your wheels. Well, thanks to Boston Bikes, you can now experience that moment without the rage.

The organization is sponsoring "Roll It Forward," a used bike donation drive. Avid riders, children who have outgrown their training wheels, and those who bought a fixie in a moment of self-delusion can donate their bikes at locations across the Greater Boston area. The bikes will be cleaned and refurbished free of charge by local cycling shops and donated to the needy.

"Our goal is to collect between 500 and 1,000 bikes, and we can accept and work with any type," said Nicole Freedman, director of Boston Bikes. "We know it's important to tackle the issue of bike equity if we really want to make Boston a world-class cycling city."

Local drop-off locations include Belmont Wheelworks at 480 Trapelo Road in Belmont, Eastern Mountain Sports at 1041 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston, Eastern Mountain Sports at 300 Needham St. in Newton, and the Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility at169 Great Plain Ave. in Wellesley. More drop-off locations, as well as information for those who would like to benefit from Roll It Forward, can be found on the group's website.

According to Freedman, Boston Bikes started in 2007, after Boston mayor Thomas Menino acknowledged that the city had been voted the worst cycling city in the country by Bike Magazine.

"We've installed over 250 new bike racks per year, laid out over 20 miles of new bike paths, distributed approximately 50,000 copies of our new Boston bike map and brought the first professional bicycling race to the city in 20 years," Freedman said. "We're now considered one of the Future Best cities for cycling."

Boston Bikes has also received a stimulus grant through the CDC to do programs that work on increasing bike equity, or access to bike use by people of different economic backgrounds. The group has sponsored youth cycling programs, bike repair stations at local farmer's markets, and community bike days.

"We knew Roll It Forward would take a tremendous amount of work, but we're really excited about it," Freedman said. "It's going to have such a great impact."

A few bikes have already been collected; Freedman said they plan to distribute the bikes to small children in public housing later in November. No distribution plans for the rest of the bikes being collected in Roll It Forward have yet been finalized.

According to a release on the program, every recipient of a bike will be provided with a helmet and must demonstrate safe riding techniques. Bikes Not Bombs, a longtime bike recycling and education program in Jamaica Plain, will be working on the program’s safety education efforts. International Bike Centers in Newton has already donated hundreds of children’s bikes, traded in from their longstanding kids bicycle “trade-up” program. Wheelworks bike shop, based in Belmont and Somerville, has served as a major sponsor of Boston’s Hub On Wheels for years.

Roll It Forward will continue to accept donated bikes at its drop-off locations through December.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at sarah.m.thomas@gmail.com.

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