Bike Athens

As a UGA college student, I commuted everywhere in Athens on my bike. As an adult living in Berlin ten years ago, my whole family learned to live for a year with bikes as the only family vehicles. Last year we took our family vacation to see the great bike race that is the Tour de France. This year when I visited my hometown of Iowa Falls, Iowa, my family was thrilled to learn that the public library loaned out bikes as well as books. Biking is a great lifestyle, but it is also a key way that many in our community secure much-needed transportation. Athens is a great biking town and BikeAthens is serving the community through their special brand of bike ministry. I’m excited to tell you a bit more about what I’ve learned about the good works of BikeAthens that I hope will grow through continued community support.

BikeAthens, an Athens, GA-based 501(c)3 non-profit since 1991, advocates for a safe and connected city, teaches safe cycling to people of all ages, and repairs and provides bikes for people who need them. BikeAthens operates a workshop where volunteers refurbish donated bicycles to re-donate to members of the community who need an affordable, reliable way to get to work, school, or services. Since 2004 they have developed partnerships with over 20 local social service agencies through a referral system to help those most in need. In 2017 they donated over 120 bikes and served over 200 walk-in repair clients, working nearly 3,000 volunteer hours.

BikeAthens tells me that feedback from service partners suggests that aside from their clients’ immediate problems, lack of transportation is one of their greatest concerns. For many clients, access to transportation is essential to help them overcome the other challenges in their lives, and a bike can provide independence and be a critical component of their support system.

Below are brief testimonials BikeAthens shared from their service partners:

“Thankfully, we were able to request a bike for him and now he has a way to make it to work on time. It is a huge asset in his life and will help him on the path to improving his future.” — Sparrow’s Nest

“Through partnering with BikeAthens, we are able to meet the needs of our client partners with transportation issues quickly… BikeAthens is participating in keeping the low-income community afloat and allowing them to have resources to enhance their quality of life.” — Action Ministries

“Our relationship with BikeAthens has given us the ability to provide our clients with a sense of comfort and freedom during a time that is otherwise filled with chaos and fear… The looks on the teens’ faces when they saw their new bikes was absolutely priceless, and we have our partnership with BikeAthens to thank for that.” — Project Safe

A 2016 move to new headquarters at 1075 West Broad Street is allowing BikeAthens to increase their service, but they are still a long way from satisfying the demand for services that only seems to have gone up after opening in the new, more visible location.

BikeAthens says that when they have asked service partners what they can do to better serve their clients, the only criticism is that it would be great for BikeAthens to fulfill more bicycle requests faster. BikeAthens’ capacity to turn out refurbished bikes is limited by the availability of donated bikes, revenue to purchase replacement parts, and the amount of time volunteer mechanics and managers can dedicate to this cause.

BikeAthens’ goal is to raise funds for a full-time program director to better serve clients and increase the shop’s operating hours. This would allow BikeAthens to leverage more volunteer time, increase opportunities to solicit donated bikes, and broaden capacity for bike sales to defray operating costs.

I hope you will join me in supporting this important work done by BikeAthens.

Leave a Comment