Bike drive underway to connect local refugees with bicycles

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - As your doing spring cleaning, a new project is looking to collect your unwanted bicycles.

The Cleveland Refugee Bike Project is working to help new residents transition and gain better access to economic, educational and recreational opportunities.

"Transportation is a big issue for refugees- so getting to work, doctors appointments and just to the grocery store is an issue," said Jim Sheehan, executive director of the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op. "There's something to be said to having your own bike right in your basement or garage, where you can hop on and it's yours and it fits ya."

Mountain style bikes are especially needed for the initiative, because they'll be easier for recipients to fix down the road. Common brands are Huffy, Roadmaster, Murray and Pacific.

The Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op and their volunteers will be doing the initial refurbishing work. 

"(What's) especially fun about this project is going to be working with all of the different languages," Sheehan said. 

Refugees selected for the program will take training and safety courses provided by the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op. Sheehan said written materials are in the process of being translated. 

While the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project gets off the ground- giving people an opportunity to earn a bike is nothing new for the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op. Anyone can volunteer and get credit hours for their work.

"So these people can purchase or earn for themselves and use the shop to work on them themselves or take them home if they know how to put the pedals on," Sheehan said. "You kind of develop a relationship with your bike."

Although mountain style bikes are needed for the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project, all donations are being accepted. The Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op is located at 1840 Columbus Road in Cleveland. Their phone number is 216-830-2667.

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