Tuesday, March 29, 2011

International Bicycle And Roll It Forward Bicycle Donation At Orchard Gardens

March 3, 2011 Boston, MA

International Bicycle Center joined forces once again with Roll It Forward and Boston Bikes to deliver a fleet of used Trek and Fisher bikes to a huge group of kids at  Orchard Gardens in Roxbury. This is the third such event that this team has collaborated on, and by now they have the program down to a science. Or at least an art form. Okay, maybe an abstract expressionist art form, but an art form nonetheless. 

These things always involve a bit of mayhem, but this time around there was an army of volunteers to help direct that mayhem. The crew from Bikes Not Bombs was particularly awesome. The load in area was slightly less than ideal, the bikes had to be carried up a back stairway into a gym. Problem was, the stairs were entirely covered with a thick coating of ice, making it treacherous bordering on impossible to bring them in that way.

Some of the Bikes Not Bombs kids went to work hacking away at the ice, but the bikes had to get inside the gym fast, so a "system" was devised to get them in there. A bucket line was formed leading from the truck to the railing next to the backdoor to the gym. The last person in line next to the railing would hand the often deceptively heavy bikes up to the next member of the line, who was hanging awkwardly over the railing, doing what had to be irreparable damage to his or her lower back. Luckily, one of the guys from Bikes Not Bombs was gigantic, and he had no trouble whatsoever hefting the bikes up over the railing. 

Once the bikes were physically inside the building, volunteers set about laying down a safety course for the kids to navigate. 

Of course the drill goes: Sign in, get your helmet, get fitted for your bike, then head out to the obstacle course. Harold Knochin from International Bicycle was on hand to offer his expert fitting services to the kids. That's him next to the mayor, right behind his team of future Pro Tour racers. That tall guy in the red in the background? That's the MVP of the bucket line, the dude who hauled more bikes over that railing than any mortal should have been capable of. 

In the future pro bike racers will all have pink bikes with baskets. This girl is just way ahead of the curve on that one.

Mayor Thomas Menino came out to show his support and pass a few valuable lessons on to the kids. Whenever the Mayor addresses kids at these events he invariably works something about "always wearing your helmet" into his speech, but this time around he took it a step further, telling them that there were "microchips in the helmets" and that we'd know if they weren't wearing them. 

Kathryn Bennett of the Boston Housing Authority at the mic and Boston Bike Czar Nicole Freedman in the foreground. These bike donations wouldn't happen without them. 

Nate and some of the Bikes Not Bombs crew whose names we will get at the next donation, which is at Orient Heights in East Boston...tomorrow. Oops, suppose we should go pack some bikes. 

Special thanks to John Bilderbeck of Roll It Forward