November 20, 2003 - The Herald Sun: Pedals for Progress gives new lives to old bikes

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Pedals for Progress gives new lives to old bikes

Pedals for Progress gives new lives to old bikes

Old bikes, new lives

The Herald-Sun/Kevin Seifert

Dan Gatti has a shed full of old bicycles he is collecting for Pedals for Progress. The program accepts old or repairable bikes and sends them to poor countries, where people can use them to pedal to school or work.

Nov 20, 2003 : 6:47 pm ET

DURHAM -- Dan Gatti needs that bike gathering dust in your garage. Not for himself, but for a person in a Third World country who might not be able to get to school or work without it.

Since 2000, Gatti has held seven bike collection drives, taking in about 50 to 70 bikes each time. On Saturday, he'll be at Durham's REI store in The Renaissance Center at Southpoint, on Fayetteville Road across from The Streets at Southpoint mall.

Gatti is a volunteer for Pedals for Progress, a nonprofit organization that sends bikes to poor, developing countries in order to improve those residents' standard of living.

"There's lots and lots of people who have bikes and don't use them anymore, and they don't know what to do with them. A lot of those bikes end up in landfills," Gatti said. But Pedals for Progress gives people the opportunity to help others by donating those old bikes. Donors also are asked to give $10, he said, to help cover the $25 shipping cost for each bike.

Once Gatti has collected the bikes, he rents a moving van to take them to Washington, D.C., where they are disassembled and mailed to a partner organization in a needy country.

The partner organization then reassembles the bikes and makes the necessary repairs. The bikes are sold for $5 to $30, depending on the condition of the bike and the local economy.

Keith Oberg, vice president of Pedals for Progress, said the group helps the countries receiving the bikes in two ways: by generating employment for those who reassemble and repair them, and by providing transportation for those who buy them.

"Each bike is a ticket to work or school, or health services," Oberg said. "You can be sure that a bicycle donated to this charity will be used productively."

Pedals for Progress only pays the shipping costs the first time an organization receives bikes through the program, Gatti added. If the same organization wants a second shipment, it must pay the shipping costs, he said.

That way, the individual organizations are responsible for their own success and Pedals for Progress can ensure that people don't take advantage of the program, he said.

Heather Phillips, a special events coordinator for REI stores in Durham and Cary, has worked with Gatti on three previous collection events held at the REI store in Cary.

"We have people shopping in the store the day of the collection who find out about it and say, 'I have one at home! I'll run home and get it!' Lots of people come here to buy bikes but don't know what to do with their old bikes. They don't want to just throw them away," Phillips said. "It's an excellent way to recycle."

Donated bikes don't even have to be in usable condition, Gatti said.

"We accept any bike that is in repairable condition. If the tires are flat or the cables are broken, that's fine," he added.

Dave Schweidenback, a former Peace Corps volunteer, founded Pedals for Progress in 1991. While volunteering with the Peace Corps in Ecuador, Schweidenback said he saw first-hand the difference that having a bike can make in the life of a person living in a Third World country.

Pedals for Progress has shipped nearly 72,000 donated bikes to dozens of countries since that time. This year, nearly 10,000 bikes have been sent to programs in Barbados, Colombia, El Salvador, Eritrea, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Moldova, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama and Sierra Leone.

Oberg said bikes collected Saturday in Durham will be shipped to Fiji in December.

The Fiji program "helps young men who are at a loss for things to do with themselves," he said. "There's been a very high unemployment rate there since before 2001."


What: Pedals for Progress bike collection

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

Where: REI at The Renaissance Center at Southpoint

Cost: $10 donation for shipping requested with each bike

More information: Call Dan Gatti at 620-1445

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Story Source: The Herald Sun

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Bicycles; Service



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