Countless bicycles are discarded or sit unused in basements or garages in the United States every year. But in a developing country, a bicycle can truly change the life of an individual, their family and their community. Bicycling is, of course, a form of transportation. But bicycles are also used for towing cargo, and even as a source of electricity through the creation of pedal-powered machines! In areas plagued by poverty, high levels of unemployment and lack of reliable, accessible transportation, a bicycle can help provide access to jobs, education medical attention, and other resources.
Working Bikes is a 501(c)(3) organization that was started in 1999 by Lee Ravenscroft, Amy Little and a group of volunteers dedicated to recycling bikes, supporting bike culture, and helping international and local projects. Since its inception, Working Bikes has recovered tens of thousands of used bicycles from across Chicago and the Midwest. Working Bikes ships thousands of these bicycles each year to our partners in countries throughout Latin America and Africa, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Uganda, Ghana, and many others. In Chicago, Working Bikes partners with homeless transition, refugee resettlement, and youth empowerment programs to donate bicycles and put them to good use on the streets of our own community. All told Working Bikes has redistributed more than 40,000 bicycles worldwide, giving these forgotten objects productive new lives.