Can you remember when you got your first bike? Mine had high handlebars and a banana seat. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
What would you do if you could not afford a new bike — or any bike for that matter? Denver’s Bikes Together offers a solution for those who can’t afford bicycles on their own. Bikes Together is a nonprofit shop that offers bikes at low cost and on a sliding scale.
And Bikes Together is more than a bike shop; it’s a community. The team wants people to feel at home and to come back for a class, a bike tube or even a new bike.
The organization was founded in 2008 as the Park Hill Bike Depot. In 2016 it opened the Mariposa location, now the main hub, as the pandemic caused them to close their location in Park Hill.
Currently, they are in need of high-quality used bikes but will take bikes in any condition. You can make monetary donations to Bikes Together through Colorado Gives. From now until the end of 2021, SE2 will match all donations up to a total of $2,000. When making your donation, select “leave a comment for the nonprofit,” and then enter “SE2 Match” in the field. They are also in need of used Mac computers for the shop.
I had the pleasure of talking to General Manager Caitie Miller, who told me about the shop’s bike distribution program. They refurbish the donated bikes and redistribute them through community partners to kids and adults who otherwise would not be able to afford a bike. Some of their current partners are Denver Housing Authority, St. Francis Center, Earthlinks and Sun Valley Kitchen. They provide the bikes and education at least once a month, sometimes twice.
The team at Bikes Together wants to make sure everyone who gets a bike from their shop not only gets the right kind but also knows how it works and how to do minor repairs. They help patrons feel comfortable enough to ride, maintain and fix their own bikes before they leave, so they can be self-sufficient and use their bikes as they need to. They also encourage patrons to come back for repairs, classes or even to volunteer.
One class they have had in the past is GEM, which stands for Gender Equality Mechanics. The bike industry is traditionally white male-dominated, and this class is one effort to grow a more diverse group of bike mechanics in a supportive space.
Potential volunteers can sign up for the Bikes Together newsletter at the bottom of their website (bikestogether.org) to learn when they are taking volunteers again. No experience is necessary — just a willingness to learn and teach others.
Take five minutes before you put your summer gear away and see if you have an old bike you’re not using or don’t need and consider donating it to Bikes Together. You could make someone’s holiday!
Laura Hansen, a project manager at SE2, is looking forward to signing up when Bikes Together begins accepting volunteers again.