Annual bike and bike equipment collection happening on Saturday
The Village Bicycle Project is having its annual spring bike drive on Saturday and hopes to collect 100 bikes for shipment to Africa.
The Village Bicycle Project has been around for about 25 years with a goal of providing sustainable transportation to West Africans living in low-income, rural areas of Ghana and Sierra Leone.
Joshua Poppel is the project’s executive director and says the bikes are distributed to school children, low-income farmers and health care workers so they can access schools, markets and patients.
“When the organization was started, our founding member was a former Peace Corps volunteer and got home, and he recognized the need for sustainable transportation options,” Poppel said. “So that's where we started. There's demand all over the world. But Africa is always high on the list in terms of needing access to low-income sustainable transportation.”
A board member with the project, Jamie May, says they’ll be at the base of the Canyons Cabriolet this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. collecting bikes and bike equipment.
“For the most part, these are bikes that are in in working condition, or could be made into working condition with reasonable maintenance, that don't necessarily have residual value for mountain biking in Park City, but are still good for functional transportation use,” May said. “And any bike clothing, any old bike parts, especially things that are older, because the bikes that we tend to ship over there tend to need 26-inch tubes and 26-inch tires, things that people here pretty much tend to discard or not feel like there's any use for because no one rides 26-inch wheel bikes anymore, but those are our bread and butter.”
Old bike parts are also needed. While mountain bikes work best, he says they’re happy to accept all bikes.
“Absolutely everything, cruisers, kid bikes,” he said. “We tend to focus a little bit more on mountain bikes, just because they're a little bit better for the kinds of uses we're anticipating in Sierra Leone and Ghana, but road bikes can generally be re-tired and re-wheeled if they're skinny road bikes,” May explained. “So, we will absolutely take those as well.”
Part of the mission of the Village Bicycle Project is to teach bike mechanics in Africa, so the bikes are shipped as-is and repaired there.
Just like everything else, May says shipping costs have become significantly more expensive, so they ask that when someone drops off a bike, they also drop off a small shipping stipend.
“When I first started even just three years ago, pre-COVID, our shipping rates were about $3,500 per container,” May said. “And now it's upwards of $8,000, $9,000, $10,000. We even got a quote for $13,000 last year. So, this is one of the reasons that we asked for and really rely on a cash donation that accompanies each bike of $20. This goes to help us offset these shipping costs, which have just gone bananas.”
A shipping container in Salt Lake City is packed with bikes already collected and he says it will ship off as soon as they collect the bikes from the Park City area.