CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A dozen volunteers were working Friday to ship 250 bikes to Chicago. There, they will be redirected to El Salvador and given to people in need of transportation.
It is a combined effort by the Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign and Chicago’s Working Bikes.
“In the last 20 years we’ve collected around 100,000 bicycles and redistributed them all over the world,” says Working Bikes Executive Director Trevor Clarke.
It is an annual event where the non-profits help the University of Illinois get rid of their extra bikes. Some of them were donated, but a majority of them were abandoned and collected by the university. Many of them still work and to avoid being scrapped, they are being put to use overseas at a bike repair school.
“They’ll repair around 10,000 bikes every year,” says Clarke. “It’s pretty amazing. Bikes can change people’s lives. We hear stories of school children in Africa who would be walking three hours to school. On a bike they can get there in 20 minutes. So it’s really empowering.”
Every November the volunteers will load a truck full of them. This year they needed two. Jacob Benjamin from the Campus Bike Center is happy to keep them out of the trash.
“Students have ridden around and decided they didn’t want to keep or couldn’t maintain them,” says Benjamin. “That’s unfortunate, but we’re happy to keep them out of the landfill and out of the scrap piles by re-purposing them internationally.”
The group getting the bikes in El Salvador is the Center for Appropriate Technology. They do more than just repair the bikes, they will also donate a lot of the ones they fix.