Cycling and recycling combine at a Northwest Arkansas nonprofit that refurbishes donated bicycles for local families, potentially stretching the machines’ useful lives over generations.
Pedal It Forward provided around 2,300 free or low-cost bikes last year and hopes to reach about the same this year, Executive Director Kenny Williams said during a recent visit. Among the recipients are rural and urban low-income kids, adults and families, at-risk youth and immigrant communities in Benton and Washington counties.
“A bike can be reused so many times,” Williams said. “As long as you don’t bend or break your frame, a frame can last for decades.”
The group has been rolling since 2014, relying mostly on volunteer teams who come in several days a week to reassemble and service donated bikes and parts into working machines. The nonprofit buys a lot of new cables and other equipment to supplement donations, but “cannibalizing” functional components goes a long way.
“We’re often turning two bikes into one,” Williams said, adding that he always tells people to donate a busted-up bike even if they’re not sure it’s usable. Parts that are too damaged go to a local scrapper that can recycle the steel and other metals. But Williams will also find high-quality vintage models dropped off at the group’s Rogers and Bentonville locations. Older mountain bikes, ill-equipped for modern tracks, are coming back into fashion for use on gravel roads.
The work’s benefits are obvious. Local families get a chance at a healthy, environmentally friendly and sometimes pricey mode of transportation that’s exploding in popularity in Northwest Arkansas. And usable parts get reused instead of thrown away, saving the energy and natural resources needed to make new ones as well as conserving limited landfill space.
Williams’ biggest hope now is to spread awareness of Pedal It Forward and encourage the Northwest Arkansas community to embrace its mission, giving everyone access to a bike.
Learn more about donating, volunteering or getting a bike of your own at Pedal It Forward’s website.
Speaking of cycling and recycling…
Do you own an e-bike? Donate the battery for recycling after it’s through. Special drop-offs will take certain brands of old batteries off your hands and keep the valuable materials inside in use. Find the nearest location online.
This post is part of a continuing series highlighting local businesses and initiatives that not only collect recyclable materials but also put them to use in Northwest Arkansas. Find our previous features below:
- The composters (food waste)
- Northwest Rags (textiles)
- eSCO Processing & Recycling (electronics)
- MoistureShield (plastic bags and other materials)
- Anew Lumber Co. and 2ndlifewood (wood and other materials)