Any child who rides a bike will be able to tell you about the feeling of freedom and power they get from riding. The rite of passage that is learning to ride a bike is one so important to children and adults alike, and as they say, 'it's like riding a bike -- once you've learnt, you never forget.'
However, for those unable to afford a bike, this childhood experience is denied to children eager to speed through their neighborhoods, as well as to adults looking for a more affordable means of transport.
Ron King decided to remedy this issue; and it started with just one bike.
Remembering what joy he himself felt as child on his bike, after watching a piece in the news about donated bikes, Ron decided that he could share that feeling with others. "I realized every kid should have a bike. There shouldn't be a reason for a child not to have a bike."
He made the decision that he would have bought, repaired and given away 100 bikes by that time next year, just before Christmas. Buying the bikes himself, he began collecting them, one after the other. As word of his project spread however, people started to donate bikes, and after just three months, he had collected over 400 bikes.
Thus Recycle Bikes for Kids was born. Ron found a huge amount of enthusiasm from within his community in Little Rock, Arkansas. People donated their old bikes, dropped off those they found abandoned on the side of roads, and most importantly, donate their time to repair and prepare bikes.
The volunteers include members of local biking clubs and other bike enthusiasts, who attend the sessions on Saturday mornings. But knowledge of bike repair is optional. For those volunteers who have never repaired a bike, there is the first stage of cleaning and stripping the bike. With help and guidance from other volunteers, the uninitiated are soon taking apart and reassembling their own bikes.
The bikes arrive in all states and conditions. Some are simply dusty and in need of a little oiling, while others need new chains, ball bearings and wheels. All the bikes leave in pristine condition, ready to be ridden away by their new owners.
All anyone who wants a bike needs to do is turn up at the door, enter the treasure trove of finished bikes and pick one that will become their own. There is no charge for the bike whatsoever.
These bikes play a very important part in the lives of their recipients. From those given to children, most often at Christmas, to the road bikes given to homeless people who need cheap methods of transportation to work, they have a great impact on their new owners' lives.
Recycle Bikes for Kids also partners with local charities. Recycle Bikes for Kids has repaired and donated five tandems to one such organization. Nancy Jackman, of World Services for the Blind explains that "what Recycle Bikes for Kids has offered us is a recreation opportunity," providing tandems to allow those with no or partial sight to ride with a pilot.
The community is a great support for Recycle Bikes for Kids. Local bike shops donate spare parts and wheels. All the tools used to repair the bikes were donated by one man who no longer needed them and local area stores send Ron the bikes that have been returned to them.
Although it started with just the motivation Ron received from buying his first bike, Recycle Bikes for Kids has continued to gain support and momentum, and in the last three years, they have collected, repaired and given away over 3,000 bikes to those who need and enjoy them.
If you would like to donate your time or your old bike to Recycle Bikes for Kids, visit their Facebook page to get in contact and see details of volunteering sessions.