It’s a hobby turned obsession, one that helps people get around in Northern Michigan.
It’s the Recycle-A- Bicycle program in Traverse City.
And it’s not just fixing up old bikes, it gives those who need it a mode of transportation.
Jack O’Malley takes us there for Jack’s Journal.
You open the door and what you see are bicycles, lots of bikes and lots of parts.
It’s the recycleabicycletc.org and Don Cunkle is the man behind it all.
The bikes are not just for sale, they are given away to those who need them.
“Probably 80% of them have no alternative transportation. Except for walking or BATA bus. They don’t have a car and asking for rides is stressful enough,” says Don Cunkle of recyleabicycletc.org
When you have to depend on others, you have no control.
9 years ago Don started fixing up old bikes and giving them away…
“So word got around before you know it there’s 30 different agencies in several counties and countless case managers,” says Cunkle.
The system is simple, get a referral, get a bike and a free lock.
Keep the bike safe because you only get one free bike.
In 9 years over 1,300 bikes have been given to someone needing it. That’s and average of 144 bikes a summer. Bikes can be fixed but he really is looking for good bikes that just needs a tune up. The better the bike the sooner it can be turned around and helping someone. Cash donations are always accepted, but what he can really use is some help.
“I need people to come who like to work on bikes. And pretty good with tools. Doesn’t have to be a lot of hours. And even if they can take a bike home and fix it in their spare time,” says Cunkle.
Don says the handshakes and hugs are payment enough.
Why does he love this so?
“It’s turning into an obsession. I think it’s not just a hobby. I see what it does for people. I see my bikes in town. I’ve ridden with some of the guys who I’ve caught up with and say hey that looks like one of mine, yeah you gave it to me last year. I get to see how they are doing. People become part of the community again,” says Cunkle