From playing cards in your spokes to banana seats, and a bell on your handle bars; these are all pieces of your bike that you might recall from your childhood. Maybe you biked to school, the library, the city pool or your grandparent’s house, but you had a means of transportation and you took pride in it. Today, the students at Orchard Elementary do not understand what those features did for a bike, as many of them have broken bikes or rely on walking to school. This situation caught the eye of one community bike enthusiast, Kristi Drake, Executive Director of Billings TrailNet.
When Kristi discovered the situation, she asked the secretary at Orchard if 20 bikes would be enough to get the students involved in National Bike to School Day in May. It was then that Kristi discovered the situation was worse than she expected, as it was estimated that 50 bikes would just scratch the surface of the need for bikes to help kids find transportation to school. Being involved with many other community bike groups and shops, Kristi set her goal at being able to donate 30 bikes to Orchard Elementary so that they could participate in National Bike to School day in May with the hopes that their participation would make them eligible for a grant that would allow the school to then purchase 10 additional bikes for students. However, what happened next surprised even Kristi.
The snowball effect
Suddenly, community resources rolled in: from Billings TrailNet, 10 members donated funds, 5 members bought 8 new bikes, 8 members are donating 18 used bikes; Billings Police Department donated 26 unclaimed/stolen bikes from their impound; and Scheels donated a gift card to be used towards the purchase of new bikes. With all the support, Kristi finds herself with a total of 50 bikes to be given away to Orchard Elementary students on December 18 at 1pm during an assembly. But Kristi isn’t stopping there; she’s also opening her home on December 12 where she’s arranged for a dozen bicyclists to donate their time in refurbishing the donated used bikes. From 2-8pm, her crew will work in shifts to ensure the bikes are safe and will work for the children receiving them. Those participating are making an evening of it with holiday dishes to share and Rockets is providing chili! Everyone donating bikes is encouraged to have their used bikes to Kristi’s house by Thursday the Dec 10, so that she can start assessing each bike and ensuring they have the materials there on Saturday the 12th to make necessary repairs. New bikes being donated can be delivered to Kristi’s house on Saturday Dec 12 during the holiday party.
What you can do:
Currently, Kristi is looking for funds to provide bicycle “U” locks for the students to include with the 50 donated bikes. The option is still available for others to help donate bikes to Orchard Elementary; Principal Karen Ziegler ensures there are more than 50 students enrolled that need a bike. Should you be interested in donating your time, resources, bike lock or bike, please contact Kristi Drake with Billings TrailNet (email: Kristi@billingstrailnet.org, phone: 406.281.1244) They even has a Facebook page, Billings Bike Project, that you can see for updated information.