Michael Foley is on a mission to put together a group of residents to help deliver bikes and provide bicycle repair training to marginalized communities in Guelph.
Foley recently tweeted about the idea, asking for those interested, or those with skills or resources to donate, to connect with him.
"I think it's a worthwhile endeavour," he said about the idea. “There are a lot of empty nesters with kids bikes, or grandkids bikes, who have outgrown them.”
“Instead of selling them for a few dollars, make a difference in somebody’s life."
As a school trustee for the Upper Grand District School Board, Foley said he noticed a lot of marginalization in different schools and in the community, and wanted to find a way to help.
Previously involved in community groups, like environmental not-for-profit Waste Wise in Georgetown, Foley said he wanted to provide bikes to children in these marginalized communities.
“Kids feel they have a lot of freedom when they have a bicycle and I feel it’s important to give them the spirit of exploration and adventure,” he said.
Foley also points out adults in these communities would benefit from having a bike to ride to and from work. The only issue is that bikes can be expensive.
“Even a cheap Canadian Tire bike is a few hundred dollars and that’s a big expense for people who are just getting by,” said Foley.
Bicycle repairs can also be expensive, which is why another component of the program is teaching people how to repair bikes.
“It is expensive to get a bicycle fixed," said Foley, "and these folks are more concerned about getting food on the table, than getting a bicycle repaired, then a bicycle sits there unused and damaged."
By getting volunteers to help teach skills to others, he adds it can have a domino effect within the community, giving people marketable skills for employment.
“Trades are almost a lost art,” said Foley, “We need to get more people skilled in trades because they are marketable, and there’s always a job for somebody in that industry.”
Currently, the program is still in the early stages of development. Foley said he is hoping to have a few other interested individuals come forward to form a committee and gather bikes for the project. After the bikes are fixed, he said he would aim to launch the program around spring time.
Foley mentions he would also like to extend the program into Wellington County, if there is enough interest in Guelph.
“I wanted to evaluate the need in other areas, and see what type of partners I could develop, hence when I put the tweet out, ‘If you have a bicycle or the skills, please instant message me,’ because I want to find other like-minded people to work with me on this project.”
Overall, Foley said a bicycle program like this would be a ‘win-win solution.’
“I look at it on a number of levels; one it’s environmental; two, it reduces waste; three, it helps out marginalized communities; and four, it provides kids with the opportunity for freedom and adventure.”
Those interested in being part of this program can contact Foley at email@example.com.