SHERIDAN — The Wellness Council of Sheridan County and the Downtown Sheridan Association are asking for donations of used bikes for use in the upcoming Bike Borrow program set to begin in early May.
The Bike Borrow program coincides with the Wellness Council’s Bike to School Week, May 6-10 for kids, and the Bike to Work Week for adults, May 13-17.
“Since the weeks are together, there may be some families who need them for both weeks,” Wellness Council Executive Director Michele Fritz said.
Used bikes can be dropped off at the YMCA anytime during regular business hours until April 19. Donated bikes will then be painted and decorated by the Safe Kids/Healthy Kids YMCA program as part of their art project and will be ready for use by the borrow pick-up day May 2.
Fritz said the program is the perfect opportunity for parents to donate bikes that their children have outgrown or for adults to donate bikes they don’t use or have replaced with new bikes.
In addition, the program offers the chance for kids and adults who don’t currently own a bike, to borrow one for up to two weeks and try out riding, hopefully inspiring them to purchase a bike of their own for future use.
“I just think it is an opportunity for people who have forgotten how much fun it is to ride,” said Downtown Sheridan Association Executive Director Stacie Coe, who is helping Fritz coordinate the event. “It also gives people an opportunity to participate in Bike to Work Week and Bike to School Week even if they don’t own a bike. I purchased my bike last year. I had just forgotten how much fun it is to ride a bike. It is just so much better to jump on your bike and ride two blocks instead of getting in your car and driving.”
Though Bike to School and Work Weeks were held last year, the Bike Borrow component is new this year.
“I think it just raised a lot of interest in biking,” Coe said, about the success of last year’s event. “It seems like a lot of people were so excited to participate and I think we will have more this year.”
Fritz said bikes do not have to be in perfect condition to be donated.
“We can fill tires and tighten seats and those basic maintenance issues,” she said. “We are working on a process of maintaining and fixing bikes, so if someone would want to donate a bike that needs work, we won’t turn it down. With the short amount of time we have between getting the bikes and the events, we won’t be able to fix major problems on the bikes we receive; therefore we hope to get bikes in good condition.”
“If we get in bikes that are beyond our ability to repair, we’ll give them to the Elks (bike donation) program for them to do more extensive maintenance,” Coe added.
If this year’s borrow program is successful, Fritz and Coe say an effort will be made to make the program a permanent, year-round offering.
“We are hoping to develop a bike exchange program for the community to have bikes and bike racks available on the pathways system to be used any time for anyone,” Fritz said. “There are a lot of other communities that have bike borrow programs and have really increased their outdoor activity by having access to bikes and pathway systems. We hope that the community will respond to the program and we can continue the bike borrow initiative through the years to create wellness as a lifestyle choice in Sheridan County.”
Borrowers can pick up bikes at the Downtown Sheridan Association office May 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. A waiver form will need to be filled out for adults and guardians will need to fill out a waiver for children. The bikes are free to borrow, but a donation is suggested to help fund future community bike programs.
The Bike to Work and Bike to School weeks are being sponsored locally by the Wellness Council of Sheridan County, the Downtown Sheridan Association, Sheridan Recreation District, Bomber Mountain Cycling Club, city of Sheridan and the YMCA.