We did our “spring cleaning” at the Montague headquarters a little early this year. In the process of organizing, we gathered up a truckload of bikes, frames, and components to donate to a wonderful organization here in Boston called Bikes Not Bombs. Located in Jamaica Plain, just south of Boston proper, Bikes Not Bombs has been working locally and with communities across the globe since 1984, to encourage social change with the bicycle. Locally, they offer youth programs where teens can learn about bicycle safety, get hands on mechanic skills working on bikes, and earn a bicycle for themselves in the process. The majority of the bicycles collected, repaired, and built by BNB are sent overseas to economic development projects in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Since 1984, Bikes Not Bombs has sent over 46,000 bikes to their partners in 13 different countries. But in addition to providing the bikes, they also provide extensive technical assistance and support to these programs, ensuring that they can maximize the impact of their work. Each of their partners has unique needs for bicycle programs in their community, so they work closely with BNB to ensure these needs are met. In Koforidua, Ghana, BNB works with Ability Bikes Cooperative, a shop that is cooperatively owned and operated by physically challenged people. Not only have they become a foundation for the bike market in Koforidua, strengthening the local economy and keeping more bikes repaired and on the road, they’ve also helped to change social perceptions of physically challenged people in society and redefine their role as highly valued.
In Ghana and Sierra Leone, BNB works with the Village Bicycle Project to bring bikes to the most rural areas and organize village based workshops where people can buy bikes at subsidized costs, and receive training in bike maintenance. In these rural areas, bicycles offer an affordable mode of transportation, helping improve access to basic resources such as education, health care, jobs, and markets that would normally be too far away.
One of their most unique partners is BiciTec in Guatemala. BiciTec builds bicycle powered machines or bicimáquinas, such as corn de-grainers, corn grinders, water pumps, coffee depulpers, and macadamia nut shellers, using recycled bike parts. They help people in rural areas of Guatemala increase their productivity in a way that is both economically and environmentally cost effective. BNB helps by providing parts, as well as training in bicimáquina design and fabrication, assistance setting up enterprises to build them, and collaborating to further bicimáquina technology regionally and internationally.
At Montague Bikes, we were happy to donate bikes and bike parts to the Bikes Not Bombs cause, and be a small part of the sweeping social change they’ve started. There’s certainly a lot more work to do, and if you’d like to donate, head over to https://bikesnotbombs.org/.