Because of the quarantine, local bike shop owners have seen bikes wheeled out of their stores more than ever before. Angelenos who haven’t hopped on a bike in years are back in the saddle, hoping that old adage – you never forget how to ride a bike – is true.
Rusty or not, bike riding is a great way to get outside safely and get some exercise. If you’ve got old bikes collecting dust and spider webs in your garage, how about cleaning them up and gifting them to someone else? Bike Match Network services have sprung up around California, including in L.A., to connect people who need a bicycle but can’t afford one with those who have an extra one sitting around. The California Bicycle Coalition, or CalBike, runs a clearinghouse website and works with volunteer technology providers to connect bicycle matching programs around the state. Founder Stephen Braitsch created the platform in April. It is now running in 13 cities and has made more than 100 matches.
New York City’s Transportation Alternatives pioneered #BikeMatch, but bicycle advocacy organizations, community bike shops and individuals in California jumped on the bandwagon early in the pandemic, launching matching services through online platforms.
“Bike Match is a great way to help essential workers and others who may need a bicycle get where need to go safely,” says Dave Snyder, executive director of CalBike. “When someone who works in a hospital or grocery store or warehouse can get around by bike, that frees space on public transit for those who need to ride to stay physically distanced.”
Community bike shops have an important role to play in bike match, and some local bicycle advocacy organizations have partnered with bike shops on their Bike Match programs. When a donated bike needs work before it is ready to ride, volunteers or staff from community bike shops supply parts and do necessary repairs so that the bike rides like new.
CalBike has partnered with Seven Shurygin, whose Sprocket app now provides an easy way for individuals to donate a bike or search for a free bicycle in their area. Several other local bicycle advocacy partners have set up their own independent bike websites. Spinlister has partnered with Brompton Bikes to provide healthcare workers with bike rentals.
If you’d like to contribute to the cause, here’s how you can help out:
- Donate a bike. Pull your old bike out of the garage and donate it to Bike Match or a community bike shop. CalBike compiled a list of Bike Match organizations in California. Both adult and kids’ bikes are in demand.
- Donate money. If you don’t have a bike you’re not using, you can consider donating to your local bicycle coalition, listed Bike Match organizations or your local community bike shop. The money you donate can be used to pay for replacement parts and repairs to donated bikes.
- Volunteer your time locally. Bike Match organizations may need volunteers to work on bike repairs, answer emails or pick up or drop off bikes.
- If there’s not a group in your area, you can start one. This video from Bike Match Gilroy/Morgan Hill explains how their bike match works.