A Kind Bicycle Heart
Our Loving the Bike friend, Kip Luce has supplied some great winter riding videos to us in the past…and this time he’s back with something that I find absolutely incredible. Kip is the epitome of a dude who wants to use bikes to do good things for the world. He’s supplied people in need with bikes in many locations and is now working in support of the World Bicycle Relief organization. I just had to share all his goodness with you.
A Kind Bicycle Heart
Basically I take on any bike in any condition that someone donates to my cause. Then I attempt to make it ride-able and either give them away, or sell them to raise funds for the parts and labour I can’t figure out myself. That money is used for locks and helmets for the recipients, and for the extra costs I incur when transporting bikes overseas.
To date my charity has been modest: I’ve given 4 bikes to 4 young people who were new to Canada and been through their own versions of hell, and could use the little personal freedom a bicycle allows. My wife and I have also taken 4 bikes to Cuba to give away. One went to a young teacher posted in the countryside, where transportation is particularly unreliable, one went to a young man who had just graduated and had a bike but gave it to his father, a farmer, “who needed it more than me.” One went to a high school student, and one went to the family of a dive instructor who lives a great distance from work and also relies on unreliable public transit. If you’ve been to Cuba, you’d agree that a bicycle can make a huge difference in the quality of life of a Cuban.
Good bikes and parts are hard to come by and out of reach of the average Cuban. I saw a road bike tire in a shop in Havana that was on sale for roughly $90 (three months wage for the average Cuban). I know a guy who was riding a bike without a seat, as he couldn’t afford a new seat, and he also couldn’t afford not to ride. Two years after I met him, I packed an extra seat in my bike box and I found him again. Sure enough, his son was riding the seat less bike. You wouldn’t believe the size of the smile on the fellow after we got that seat on his bike.
And as for the future: In the past couple of weeks I’ve prepared 2 more bikes for my next trip to Latin America, and I’m still repairing and selling bikes to raise funds for some locks and helmets and the cost of getting those bikes down there. And, I’m trying to raise some funds for World Bicycle Relief bikes….I just recently held an event in early August and made enough to send one bicycle to Africa.
Since I’ve started helping World Bicycle Relief (WBR), I’ve had a lot of success with my local bikes for refugees and bikes for Cubans program, but not so much success with helping WBR, so I’m changing gears a bit and enlisting all the help I can so I can help kids in Zambia as much as I’ve been able to help folks in Cuba.
I plan on continuing to do all I can to provide bikes to people in Africa, Cuba, and around the World….and I encourage you to help out as well. Whether it’s through the World Bicycle Relief or something else, it really does feel good to put smiles on people’s faces by giving them a bike.