Wichita Earn a Bike program benefits people in need

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A pair of Wichita programs aim to refurbish and donate bicycles to people in need.

Bike Walk Wichita’s Recylce and Earn a Bike program began about two years ago when a few volunteers started taking bike tools to United Methodist’s Open Door once a week. The volunteers would offer free, basic bicycle maintenance to people waiting in line at Open Door. Now, the volunteers have a space of their own near Wichita’s Old Town where they dedicate three days-a-week to recycling worn-out bicycles into affordable modes of transportation.

“People are using bicycles to get to school, to get to work, to get to resource centers, to get to the doctor and it’s a convenient, affordable way to get around and we just want to make sure that bikes are available and they are safely maintained,” said ReCycle volunteer Geoffrey Kisch.

Geoffrey Kisch said anyone can sign up to earn a refurbished bike at ReCycle.

“For somebody just coming into ReCycle, they work with us, volunteer for 15 hours, just working on different bikes for other people. Once that 15 hours has been accumulated, they can pick a bike out from what is here and fix that up and it’s theirs,” Kisch said. “Part of it is, there is some ownership, we feel, in spending some time earning the bicycle rather than just giving it away.”

“That’s the best thing about this. They are teaching me” said Earn a Bike recipient Joe.

Joe, who did not want to disclose his last name, currently does not have a mode of transportation. He said the ReCycle and Earn a Bike program has allowed him to earn something he said he desperately needed, but could not afford.

“Come down and spend a little time, make it right. No money, but I’ve got time,” Joe said.

“I don’t believe a bike is going to save anybody or going to make anybody’s life super better, but it’s like you mentioned, it’s a tool to help them achieve other important things in life,” Kisch said.

In 2016, more than 100 people earned a bike through the Earn a Bike program. So far in 2017, 56 people have volunteered more than 775 hours of time at ReCycle.