Green Mountain Foster Bikes
A Vermont-based nonprofit with a mission to give foster kids a bicycle to ride.
"Do you have memories of riding a bicycle as a kid? I do, and I still ride my bicycle for transportation, health, and happiness. I have dedicated my life to servicing bicycles so that riders of all types can pursue their dreams on wheels. I also believe that the more bicycles that are in use, the better the riding will be for everyone. To this end I am always looking at where bikes are needed. As I work at my bike shop, Little City Cycles, I learn about the different needs of the riders. These needs are wonderfully varied and have led me to notice the foster child population in Vermont. With the realization of the need comes my desire to fulfill it." - Tim
As we were thinking about the project, we wanted to use a bicycle that needed as little maintenance as possible, while still meeting the needs of the kids using it. We as a nation throw away a ridiculous number of bicycles. With simple modification, many of these can become simple one speed coaster brake bicycles. Given a moderate gearing, a rider could enjoy most of Vermont's terrain. What we would like to do is give bicycles that need a home to kids that need a home.
Reasons we chose not to use geared bikes:
Bicycles with gears have cables that are used to shift and activate the brakes. When a cable gets old, it does not move freely, which compromises the gears and brakes. The brakes and gears can lose motion, get bent, and lose performance if not properly maintained.
The coaster brake bicycles we deliver only need oil on the chain and air in the tires to stay ready for service for years to come.
"My name is Timothy Mathewson, and I have been working on bicycles for 40 years. I have always wanted to save every bike. I helped to found Bike Recycle Vermont, and to date they have given away over 2000 bicycles. For the last 6 years I have been running Little City Cycles, in Vergennes, Vermont. I enjoy getting as many people as I can on bicycles that they will love to ride. I often state that I cannot help you with your problems, but I can help your bicycle, and it will help you with your problems. I also believe that there is no such thing as a bad bike, only a sad one if it is not ridden."
"Growing up in Vermont, I have always enjoyed the outdoor activities Vermont has to offer. I love riding bicycles, and am passionate about helping others find that joy. I have dedicated myself to Green Mountain Foster Bikes as a partner in assessing the current and future needs of the corporation as it moves forward. While Tim takes on the task of rebuilding the bikes, I focus on the logistical side of the operation - social media, funding, outreach, etc. I am thrilled to be a part of this project, and invite anyone who would like to participate to contact us! What we hope to do is create a model that could eventually be taken to other areas of the country that would like to have a similar program. I’m as excited to see bikes being repaired and recycled, instead of being thrown away, as I am to give them to kids in Vermont."
Our mission currently runs completely on monetary/bike donations. We are now a 501(c)(3), and monetary donations are tax deductible; we provide a reciept and proof of donation to our supporters. So far, we have received numerous bike donations, and are most in need of funds to complete the repairs and to buy new helmets. Please contact us if you are interested in donating!
Each home that the bicycles go to will receive a pump, rag, and oil for the chain. If the kids keep air in the tires, oil on the chain, and the bike wiped down, then they will have a connection to the bicycle and the basic maintenance required. This will give them a sense of ownership as well as an awareness around bicycles that will last a lifetime.
"As I receive bicycles as donations to my bike shop, I am evaluating and saving bicycles for the foster bikes program. Even when using recycled bikes, there are costs of getting them ready. I would like to see each bicycle get new tires, tubes, pedals, chains, grips, and seats, which are often needed. Each coaster brake conversion of the bike takes some time, and usually a new hub for the back wheel as well.
I own the bike shop Little City Cycles, and since I already have industry accounts and connections within the community, we are poised for success. Costs can be kept to a bare minimum, and this lets me focus on the goal. This could establish Green Mountain Foster Bikes as a source for bikes for foster kids for years to come. From there I would like to see all of the needs met for foster kids in Vermont over time. We are working directly with the State of Vermont Department of Child and Family Services to find the homes for the bikes. We also have been thrilled to have help from a number of volunteers so far, and without their help we couldn’t possibly do all of this wonderful work! If you are interested in aiding our cause by learning to rebuild a “foster bike,” please contact us."