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The bike collection helps turn the wheels to a better life

Dozens of used bikes, in a variety of sizes and conditions, filled the parking lot at South Dartmouth Congregational Church on Saturday.

They would soon find new uses that could change their lives.

The church’s outreach committee organized the drive in conjunction with Bikes Not Bombs, a Jamaican lowland nonprofit that uses donated bicycles as a vehicle for social change and economic mobility.

More than 80 bikes had been collected, in person and via a pickup service, starting at noon.

“People are so happy that they have a determined way to get rid of their bikes,” said Alice Root, Outreach Committee member.

Some of the bikes collected will be sent to communities in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, said Marty Andrews, who works with Bikes not Bombs at Jamaica Plain headquarters.

People in these countries can use bicycles to get around and also learn how to repair bicycles, which provides them with a valuable profession, he said. In particular, they are working to ensure that women learn bicycle mechanics, he said, so that they can be empowered.

“If you have a skill, you become a lot more valued,” he said.

Others will be sent to the organization’s Win a Bike and Girls In Action programs, where teens learn bike safety and mechanical skills in the process of winning bikes to keep for themselves.

Still others head to the organization’s Jamaica Plain bicycle store, which sells refurbished bicycles and spare parts to help support the group’s activities. These stores employ many graduate programs.

The organization collects approximately 5,000 used bicycles and tons of used parts each year from supporters in New England.

For members of the South Dartmouth Congregational Church, the collection fits their purpose of helping people locally, nationally and internationally, Root said.

The event had an added benefit, she said. Because the collection took place outside, social distancing was more easily achievable.

Church volunteers did more than pick up the bikes. Andrews and senior apprentice Joseph Pires from Dorchester helped them with basic work on the bikes before they were sent to the organization’s headquarters.

It taught them new skills, Root said, but also reminded them of what they were already capable of, she said. For example, she laughed, she knew how to use an Allen wrench thanks to her work in the industrial arts, a tool she used on the donated bikes on Saturday.

Heidi Harring of Dartmouth donated her late father’s bike and another bike that was too big for her children. She supports the group and has already passed her bikes to them, she said. “I was aware of them and the purpose they serve,” she said.

Reusing the bikes also keeps them out of landfills, said Derrick Jones, a member of the church’s outreach committee. “There is a great need for these bikes,” he said, especially in places where people would otherwise have to travel long distances to get basic necessities.

Recycling is another valuable aspect of their job, Andrews said, and the group recycles as many bikes as possible if the parts are no longer viable.

Kristy Oliver donated her old bikes when she decided to buy new ones. “We wanted to give someone a chance who may not have a bike,” she said.

Andrews also hopes people will learn more about the value of the bike, he said. Horseback riding, he said, improves health, reduces traffic jams and is a cheaper transportation alternative.

“It allows people to be more independent” and less dependent on more expensive modes of transport, he said.

This sense of independence is crucial, said Pires.

“I believe most of the changes that happen to disenfranchised people come from the community and not from the government,” he said. “It shows that people can come together and make a difference on their own. “


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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.