Project Bicycle was such a success, its organizers hope to export the concept to neighbouring communities next year.
Brody Isaak said nearly 100 bikes were donated to the initiatve, which aimed to collect, repair and distribute unused bikes to those in need. About 70 of those were repaired, with the remainder used for parts, he said.
As of Monday, the final repairs have now been made and some of the bikes have already been distributed. (Isaak and company are working with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Chilliwack Community Services to connect the bikes with those who need them most.)
Isaak said he and the other mechanics—Rob Friesen and Spencer Arnold—were surprised by the community response to the project.
“It’s been incredible,” he said. “The response has really been great.”
The guys’ friend Amanda Weismiller ran a popular Facebook page and that, along with a Times article, prompted dozens of calls. In fact, Chilliwack’s enthusiasm posed some challenges for the three guys.
“We had tons of people phoning us, tons of people emailing us, and it became a bit of a logistical nightmare,” he said.
So the mechanics co-ordinated pickup runs, with additional help coming from their friends Rhys Walter and Gavin Lengert. Even though the project turned into more work than expected, Isaak said it was fun to be able to turn unused bicycles into Christmas presents.
And although many of the younger recipients will only get their first look at their bikes on Christmas Day, some have already been handed out.
“It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been very encouraging to see the kids actually getting the bikes,” he said, adding that it’s also been gratifying to see the project embraced by the community, with some even providing cash donations to help pay for parts.
“There were times I was getting 10 to 15 calls a day and it was a lot. Now the hump is over and we’re seeing the rewards of it.”
Isaak said he hopes to return this year and get other bike shops around the Fraser Valley on board.
“We’re going to do it next year—that’s for sure,” he said. “We’re going to try and put together a bit of a package to bring to a few other local shops towards Abbotsford and Mission so they can start with the same project.
“Bike shops have a lot of time in the winter and it’s a way we can put our time and effort into benefiting the community a little bit. So we plan to keep going and maybe grow it a little bit next year.”