Rails To Trails Conservancy
Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity
shop   |   eNews   |   find a trail
Share this page:
Helping the Homeless with Bicycling

By Ruby Brunk

As our nation warms to the environmental, health, safety and economic benefits of bicycling, more and more people are choosing to hop on a bike to get where they're going. But for those who don’t have cars and struggle to afford public transportation, biking is not a choice but a necessity.

A number of organizations exist with the purpose of assisting those who need it most with this mode of transportation.

Many groups that assist the homeless refer to those who need their services as "clients." The Community Bicycle Project in Goshen, Ind., bridges the gap between volunteer and client, requiring that clients work for an hour or more in the shop to get a bicycle. Many clients end up as long-term volunteers. Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, Calif., goes a step further with their Certified Bicycle Mechanic job skills training, a program for clients-turned-volunteers. Good Karma founder Jim Gardner counts the personal empowerment he sees in his clients when they learn how to fix something as his greatest reward.

In PortlandOre., The Community Cycling Center’s Create a Commuter program uses the help of volunteers to provide fully outfitted commuter bikes and bike safety workshops to low-income adults. Wrench Raiders, also in Portland, brings its services directly to the homeless, setting up shop under bridges, and in the downtown area.

The Community Cycling Center maintains that "bicycles are a tool for empowerment and a vehicle for change." Indeed, these organizations are doing more than just providing bikes; they’re building community and empowering the individuals they serve.

Photo: Wrench Raiders at work, courtesy BikePortland.org

Posted Fri, Mar 18 2011 1:19 PM by Stephen Miller (RTC)


Caleb wrote re: Helping the Homeless with Bicycling
on Wed, Mar 23 2011 1:10 PM

It's so true; easing access to bikes, advocating their use, and teaching basic mechanics skills to those who need it the most is an under-appreciated way to have a big impact on people's lives. I wonder if anyone has made a sturdy, cheap bike with simplified mechanics (e.g. fewer tools needed to fix) that could be mass distributed?


Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037