I pulled up to work this morning and saw this van sitting outside my office. Turns out it's a mobile, mini bike drive, organized by Bike Recycle Vermont.
These dedicated pedal pushers are standing outside on this frigid morning collecting used bikes that they'll fix up and sell to low-income Vermonters. Bike Recycle founder Ron Manganiello says people who meet BRV's income guidelines can receive a bike, helmet, lock and a set of lights for just $20. That's a great deal.
Manganiello says that, since its inception four years ago, BRV has refurbished and sold thousands of bikes to people who need them. BRV shop manager Mark Rowell adds that BRV isn't just providing bikes. "We train at-risk youth, we train volunteers to work on bikes," he says.
BRV accepts used bikes as donations at its HQ in the Good News Garage building, in the former bus barns on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington. But since they got this swanky van — donated by VBT, along with 100 bikes, and lots of bike parts — they decided to actively seek donations by setting up a mobile station. The hope is that people will donate bikes on their way to work.
This is only the second time they've tried this approach; they staged their first mobile bike drive three weeks ago in front of General Dynamics and collected 15 bikes.
Why stand outside right now asking for bikes? Are they doing a special push for the holidays? Rowell says no. "We spend the winter fixing bikes and getting them ready for spring," he says.
They don't seem to be doing as well this morning — probably because they forget to tell us they were doing it! So none of my co-workers brought in bikes. Too bad. Maybe next time. I hope all the people at VEIC and JDK and Kelliher Samets Volk pony up some wheels. If you read this before 10 a.m., feel free to drop by with a donation. We're at the end of South Champlain Street, across from the Bobbin Mill.
Here's a short video from Mountain Lake PBS with more information about BRV.
The folks in the photo, left to right: BRV volunteer Parker Brown, Rowell, Americorps/VISTA Emily Eschner and Manganiello. I think I'm going to go outside and offer them some coffee.