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Buffalo’s Recycle-A-Bicycle: Changing the Habits of an Entire Generation

With the current focus this week upon our city’s youth being able to bicycle to school, I thought it would be important to highlight Green Option Buffalo’s award winning program Recycle-A-Bicycle, which was founded in 2001 to teach children skills related to bicycle safety, maintenance and repair.  That to date has seen over 1,200 youth in our recycle over 1,030 bicycles.   

The Recycle-A-Bicycle program’s bicycles are furnished by the community – they are retrieved from refuse, donated by individuals or through organized drives, or obtained after being unsold at police auctions.  Currently, we have established a partnership with the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning and participated in two successful recycling drives last year which netted 800+ bicycles donated to our program. This was such a success that this partnership will be continuing.
As the 2007 Bronze Commitment to Education Award winner from the Buffalo Alliance for Education, Recycle-A-Bicycle students gain valuable English and Math skills while participating in problem solving and basic mechanic lessons that positively impact our environment; reducing the amount of unused bicycles going to the waste stream, curtailing automobile emissions and circulating bicycles back into the community to other low income youth.

Each class begins with a quick quiz and discussion about bicycle repair and maintenance, bicycle safety or the impacts of our transportation decisions on our communities and environment. From there, Recycle-A-Bicycle students strip broken bicycles that have been donated to the program of their usable parts from which they rebuild (recycle) a bicycle of their own. Once the students have a fleet of their own bicycles, the class takes escorted bicycle rides throughout Buffalo, learning how to properly ride a bicycle on city streets. At the end of the program, students take home bicycles that they designed and built themselves which are accompanied with a new helmet, lock and lights.

Recycle-A-Bicycle programs have been coordinated through partnerships with Baker Victory Services, Bennett Park Montessori, the Buffalo Youth Hostel, the Massachusetts Avenue Project, Enterprise Charter School and public schools 18, 27, 77 and currently the Harvey Austin School. Through the Safe Routes to School award the City received and Green options Buffalo was a partner in, this program will be expanding to an additional three new schools.
It is our goal to be able to work with members and organizations within the community to provide bicycles as well as the equipment and skills needed to provide to those in need all the necessary components to make cycling in Buffalo a healthy, safe and environmentally friendly transportation option.   

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