Letter from the Director - September 2015

News released on: 
Sep 15th, 2015

Dear Friends,

Not a day goes by without a customer walking into our Bike Shop who depends on their bike, but does not have the resources for repairs or a new bike. Our shop mechanics try to fix their bikes within their budget, but the best solution is not always affordable. After years of struggling with how to best serve these customers, we are proud to announce that the shop has launched a new program, Adult Earn-A-Bike, to provide free bikes to lower-income individuals. Bikes Not Bombs is committed to increasing access to using bikes as affordable transportation and it is your donation that allows us to innovate and launch programs that use the bicycle to transform the lives of lower-income communities in Boston and the Global South.

One of our first Adult Earn-A-Bike graduates, Jesse, first came to Bikes Not Bombs during our youth drop-in time, Bike- In. At age 20, Jesse was too old to enroll in Earn-A-Bike, but still needed a bike to get to school, work, and commute around Boston. Like many of our Bike-In participants and shop customers, Jesse did not have the financial means to buy a new bike and doesn’t live near reliable public transportation. Bikes Not Bombs believes that people like Jesse can and should have a bicycle to get to jobs and other critical services. We want to create programs that increase access to bikes for people who need them the most.

We recognize that it’s not just lack of financial resources that prevent folks from using bicycles for everyday transportation. It’s much more than that. We live in a society with built-in injustices that create unequal access to opportunities.

This is why Adult Earn-A-Bike is open to anyone who identifies as low income, formerly incarcerated, a recent immigrant, and/or living in an area underserved by public transportation. By increasing access to bicycles, we can improve quality of life and increase self-determination in lower-income neighborhoods in Boston.

Bikes Not Bombs fights systemic oppression every time we support a cooperative bike shop in the Global South, create girls-only spaces in Earn-A-Bike, and elevate youth voices through Bicyclists Organizing for Community Action (BOCA). Your support has helped us expand all of these programs and allowed us to develop Adult Earn-A-Bike.

Modeled after our youth Earn-A-Bike program, Adult Earn-A-Bike teaches bike maintenance, safe riding skills, and gives graduates unlimited access to our open shop time. But, we knew that Adult Earn-A-Bike participants would not be able to make the same 5-week commitment as youth, so we structured the program to allow participants to earn their credits on a rolling basis. Participants are given three months to attend two free clinics, volunteer 4 hours, and choose their bike from our refurbished section.

Jesse was eager to get on the road and quickly graduated from Adult Earn-A-Bike in just under a month. He attended every clinic he could, learning about basic maintenance for his bike, perfecting how to change a flat and volunteering with Bikes Not Bombs. Since graduating in May, Jesse has continued to volunteer at our Container Loadings, contributing his time and energy to BNB and our mission.

Adult Earn-A-Bike has already graduated four students, and has six more in the pipeline, but the program is still in its pilot phase. We are already looking to expand the availability of clinics to better fit the schedules of participants and at the end of the year will be doing a thorough assessment to identify and make any necessary improvements.

There is so much to be done to make sure Adult Earn-A-Bike continues to be successful. We need to ensure those who would benefit from Adult Earn-A-Bike are hearing about the program. We need to open more slots for participants, while working with space constraints at the Bike Shop. And, we must devote more staff time to the program.

For all of this and more, we are asking for your support. We’ve proven we can build effective programs that make biking more accessible for those who depend on bikes for transportation. Now we ask for your help in building Adult Earn-A-Bike to transform the lives of lower-income adults in Boston. This fall, we invite you to join us as partners in our work by making a donation. Each and every contribution is meaningful and provides us with the financial support we need to strengthen our programs, like Adult Earn-A-Bike, that have a deep impact on the lives of people like Jesse. We hope you’ll make a gift today!


For Bikes Not Bombs,

Jodi Sugerman-Brozan

Executive Director

P.S. Want to expand the impact of your donation this year? Consider giving monthly - you’ll provide Bikes Not Bombs with the stable and dependable funding needed to support all of our programs.