Successes Abound at Nonprofit Bike Recycler

Oct 1, 2008 9:35 AM. All work by , ,

BOSTON—Dozens of volunteers floated in and out of the non-profit bicycle refurbishing warehouse of Bikes Not Bombs for the weekly volunteer night held on Wednesdays. The number of participants has more than tripled in the past year, said senior volunteer Kit Transue.

"It's all word of mouth," Transue said, proudly. Although there was no formal list, newcomers accounted for about a quarter of last night's group, Transue estimated. He added that another quarter of the group were people who had only been there one or two times before. Transue manages BNB’s volunteer nights with fellow cyclist Christopher Adams. The two attributed the explosion in popularity to the growing number of bike owners popping up all over the Boston area and a trend toward humanitarianism.

Groups from Fidelity, City Year (an Americorp branch), MIT, and Boston University, to name a few, have helped out at BNB, squeezing 30-40 people into a workshop meant to hold far less, said Adams. The assistance is still dearly appreciated by the older volunteers who sort, deconstruct and pack used bicycles that they collect from all around Boston. The bikes that are in usable condition are put into shipping crates and sent to impoverished communities by the hundreds. Since it’s creation in 1994, BNB has shipped over 32,000 bikes to nine different countries. All of this has been accomplished by volunteers like the ones that show up on Wednesday nights.

The nonprofit has had successes in other areas as well. This year was the 21st BNB Bike-a-Thon, which saw a 250 percent increase in money raised, said Adams. The event had roughly 400 registered riders, each held to a minimum pledge of $150 to participate, according to the BNB website.

"And that's just one year's growth," commented Adams. He mentioned that the organization has matured over the years from a “scrappy punk thing” that was funded by small alternative rock concerts to a growing enterprise with two locations – the workshop and a self-sustaining used bike store further down the street.

Jasmine Laietmark is an office assistant who has been with BNB for four years. She attributed the nonprofit’s success to the workshop space that they acquired in late-December of 2006.

"We're now taking in more bikes than ever each year, and this year, that'd be about 6,000 bikes," said Laietmark. She added that the shop is also “booming” and has its own blog website to display specialty bikes the shop finds.
Laietmark said that it would not be possible without the cooperation from individuals and institutions who help to donate, locate or process bikes that might otherwise end up in landfills.
"It's pretty amazing how many bikes just get abandoned,” said Laietmark. “Boston's just full of people... who live here only for a few years and then move on and leave their bikes behind." Coincidentally, it is also a diverse group of “seasonal” members who process and care for these bikes, said Laietmark.

"People do come from pretty far,” Laietmark said. “Most of them bike here, of course."

edit post