Whether stocking grocery shelves or prepping takeout orders, many of the region’s essential employees take SEPTA to work. A new effort aims to give at least some of them a different option.
Neighborhood Bike Works this week launched Bikes for Neighbors, which gives free refurbished bicycles to workers during the coronavirus pandemic. It specifically had SEPTA riders in mind when it developed the idea, said Amy Wilson, operations director for the nonprofit group, based in Mantua.
“They’re putting themselves at risk at their job,” she said of essential workers, “but they’re also putting themselves at risk traveling to their job.”
Within a day of announcing the program Monday, her group had more than 50 requests, Wilson said.
The request form is simple — asking for little more than “industry,” name, and height. It also asks those who can part with the bike after the pandemic to return it.
Neighborhood Bike Works has a “good supply” of bikes, Wilson said. The group is accepting donated bikes on a limited basis. Details can be found on its website.
“This isn’t a huge-scale solution that we’re able to offer,” Wilson said, “but it’s what we were able to do with the resources that we have.”
Bikes for Neighbors is also extended to guardians of youths involved in Neighborhood Bike Works programs, which include classes and workshops for children and adults such as “Earn-a-Bike,” “Ride Club,” and “Bike Church.”
The Bikes for Neighbors effort comes as many turn to cycling during the coronavirus. First, advocates pushed to make bike repairs “essential,” then to open more streets to pedestrians and cyclists. And people can still get around on Indego, the city’s bike-share program sponsored by Independence Blue Cross.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has rallied behind Neighborhood Bike Works’ plan. Randy LoBasso, policy manager, said bikes are natural social-distancing tools — a fact that’s become especially important.
“Public transit is amazing as well,” LoBasso said. “But right now, it’s an especially difficult time to make that decision to get on public transit.”