Volunteers change lives a bike at a time

Bicycles for Humanity volunteer Andrew Rawlinson (left), South Perth, director David Tucker, Crawley, Peter Sam, Bayswater and co-founder and project coordinator Jamie Brindle, Guildford. Photo: David Baylis
Bicycles for Humanity volunteer Andrew Rawlinson (left), South Perth, director David Tucker, Crawley, Peter Sam, Bayswater and co-founder and project coordinator Jamie Brindle, Guildford. Photo: David Baylis

WHAT travels great distances, comes in an array of colours and is changing the lives of thousands living in Africa?

The humble bike of course.

Bicycles for Humanity is a volunteer run-charity in Middle Swan that collects and ships more than 800 donated bikes to countries like Namibia, Zambia and South Africa every year.

Established in 2011, director David Tucker said the charity believed sustainable transport was a big lever in breaking the poverty cycle by making health care, employment and education more accessible.

“A bike means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load,’’ he said.

“There are people in Africa who were travelling two hours to work and now ride there in 20 minutes.

“A bike makes a huge difference and to these people can be life changing.”

Mr Tucker was working in Africa as a geologist for an Australian mining company when the opportunity to join Bicycles for Humanity arose.

“Spending time in Africa over the years, I was well aware of the needs of those people and I knew I wanted to help and give back in my retirement,’’ he said.

“After a bike is donated to us, it is sorted and repaired (if necessary) before being packed into a shipping container.

“We collect both mountain and road bikes, and our volunteers help sort them into great condition, good condition and those requiring a little work.

“The bikes that are in great condition are then sold and the money raised is used towards our shipment costs (which is $10,000 every shipping container).”

Bicycles for Humanity has more than 50 volunteers. Photo: David Baylis

With more than 50 volunteers, there is always someone adapt at fixing the odd handle bar or punctured tyre.

Once the 40ft shipping container lands at its destination, it is converted into a bicycle workshop and locals are trained to turn it into a viable little business.

Mr Tucker said the locals are then able to buy the bikes at a feasible price.

Bicycles for Humanity collects donated bikes at their shed at Jack Williamson Park in Middle Swan on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Mr Tucker said he kept busy running the admin and fundraising side of the business.

And when he isn’t working?

“I do enjoy cycling with my grandkids, but I don’t own any lycra,’’ he joked.

Mr Tucker said he was looking forward to growing the charity’s shipments this year and possibly planning a return trip to Namibia.

“Aside from visiting the many bike shops we supplied over there, it’s just a beautiful place to visit,’’ he said.

Cash donations are also welcome.

For more information, visit www.b4hwa.com