It really is the little things in life.
Ten smiling faces pedaled their way into the sun Tuesday afternoon thanks to a partnership between U-bicycle and Anawim Companion Society. The Victoria bike share program repurposed 25 bikes to donate to the local non-profit that helps those who are less fortunate.
“We’re hoping to hear that this has given them a new life, a new beginning,” says Terry Edison-Brown, director of Anawim House.
The bikes will be made available via an application process to determine the intended use, but are open to anyone who wishes to apply through Anawim House.
“Transportation is a big thing,” Edison-Brown says. “With these bikes, they’re going to have the opportunity to get their lives back and get to just [easily access] basic needs.”
A five dollar bus ride for some folks, means choosing between getting around or getting a meal, he adds. “People don’t have that kind of money.”
Alicia Aguayo and her husband Marco Chairez, originally from Mexico, just received work permits last week. Receiving one of the first 10 bikes means the world to them, Aguayo says.
“We don’t have a bus pass,” explains Chairez. “Now we’re ready to start working and we can use our bicycles to get out and look for work.”
|Each bike dons a sticker signifying it is no longer an official U-bicycle and belongs to the owner. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS
For Chris Liske, his new ride is a double win: “It means I can save more time in between when I schedule [appointments] throughout the day and now I can get some more exercise.”
The program is an experiment U-bicycle is trying out to extend the life of damaged bikes, placing them in the hands of new riders permanently, instead of selling them for scrap metal.
Each set of wheels has been tuned up and is ready to go, and maintenance will eventually continue at the new bike repair shop at Anawim House.Accessories like lights, helmets and combination locks will accompany the bikes, a contribution to the program from Fort Street Cycle.
“We want to be sensitive to those who cannot afford a smartphone or to use our service,” said Raviv Litman, operations manager with U-bicycle. “Everyone deserves access to ride a bicycle, should they choose. It’s a matter of the right to transportation and the right to happiness.”
The program also includes a check in with users throughout the following year to measure the success of the program and the frequency of their use, which may lead to the donation of more bikes as they become available.