Eastside Bike Drive a success in first year

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published November 2, 2016

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The spring season of 2017 might bring out hundreds of new bikers.

That’s the intention of nonprofit Advancing Macomb and surrounding communities that are participating in the first year of the Eastside Bike Drive.

The goal of the drive is for different communities to work together to collect all kinds of bikes, which will eventually be given to families in need next spring.

Advancing Macomb, headquartered in Mount Clemens, is working with the Macomb YMCA, Leadership Macomb, Thoughtful Missions, the Macomb County Executive’s Office, CARE of Southeastern Michigan and No Bike Left Behind.

Some communities have concluded their collection cycles, while others — such as Shelby Township, Harrison Township and Washington Township — are just commencing. The last day of collection for all communities is Nov. 18.

“I think we looked at another group doing it in Utica, New York, that has been doing it for 10 years,” Advancing Macomb Executive Director Melissa Roy said. “In their 10th year, they hit their 1,000th bike. … But we didn’t set expectations. It’s the first year so we wanted to make sure logistics and planning are properly laid out. We set up location spots and wanted to see what happens, and we’ll see how to improve upon it.”

Roy said her organization started in the “war room” in 2013, when a group of business leaders found that particular organizations — in areas like Grand Rapids, Detroit and Kalamazoo — were spurring economic development through the private sector.

After looking at community needs and economic competition, the bike drive was one of the first ideas — part of what Roy referred to as an “incubation phase” where smaller projects can help catapult different pockets of the community toward reinvigoration.

At press time and heading into the final stretch, Roseville and Eastpointe had collected more than 100 bikes. Sterling Heights had collected about 50 bikes, while Clinton Township collected upwards of approximately 150 bikes Oct. 3-21.

“The county has a lot of great biking trails and recreation trails,” Roy said. “We thought it’d be a great way to get everyone in the county engaged, and get bikes to kids.”

Clinton Township Deputy Supervisor Liz Vogel said the township, at the urging of Advancing Macomb, jumped at the opportunity to be part of a bike drive for the very first time.

“We blasted social media, the (Clinton Township) Parks and Recreation Facebook page, Twitter and we even did a billboard last week,” Vogel said. “We wanted to let Advancing Macomb know we were totally on board with the program.”

While the cause is noble, this drive also set the table for bragging rights. Vogel said the township reached out to Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins as a fun way to compete, in terms of how many bikes each community collected.

The collection thus far is robust, Vogel said, and the bikes are not junk. Actually, most seem to be gently used and have sat in people’s garages for far too long.

In Clinton Township, the multidepartment effort included the transfer of bikes from the Parks and Recreation Department, on Romeo Plank Road, to the Public Services Department’s maintenance garage, located off Hall Road.

“That speaks to the generosity of the community, and everyone just loves the program,” Vogel said. “Melissa really tapped into something that speaks to all of us. We all have bikes in our garages, and it’s important for kids to experience simple pleasures, so it’s really phenomenal.”

Brian Kay, assistant director of parks and recreation, said his department publicized the event with flyers. The bike donations are also tax-deductible, and donations were accepted as well.

Roy said that once all bikes are collected, there will be “repair days” this winter where volunteers who are skillful with fixing bikes will donate their time to fix them.

“It’s a great opportunity for those who have some mechanical working knowledge, or just want to help cleaning up bikes,” Roy said.

Vogel mentioned that no similar bike drive exists across the state.

“Clinton Township is really energetic,” Roy said. “They advertised it on their township bulletins and parks and recreation was very active, (they) really promoted it. In addition, a lot of great community energy went into this.

“It’s great to see everyone, from Roseville to Eastpointe to Washington Township and everyone in between. The cohesion is really great.”

To volunteer, email volunteer@advancingmacomb.com, and for more information visit www.eastsidebikedrive.com.