The ReCycle Bikes Program will be returning to its normal operations after supporting frontline workers with active transportation.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the ReCycle program was limited in what it was able to do. Chair of the Discovery Routes Trails Organization, Lance Belanger, says that helping front line workers was the first step of many for the program.
“We didn’t initially have the biggest demand for bikes for front line workers, but it was a way to ensure continuity with the program while also making sure that we were meeting the needs of the community,” said Belanger, who added that they redistributed about 30 bikes to essential workers early in the pandemic.
Now, ReCycle will be returning closer to normal, calling for donations of bikes of all sizes. Belanger says there are no bad donations to the program, especially now that there is a higher demand for bicycles.
“In a normal year for us, we would accept every bike. We would accept bikes for kids, we would accept bikes for adults – absolutely everybody…With restrictions easing, we’re seeing a lot of family members and members of the community out and using the bike trails,” Belanger said, adding that the cycling industry is so busy that there have been shortages on some bike parts.
Last week, North Bay City Council elected to move ahead with a $2.17 million infrastructure project that will further enhance the city’s cycling trails. Belanger says that it’s welcome news for the ReCycle program, which has been a big proponent of the City’s Active Transportation Plan.
“What we’re seeing as the West Link extension to connect the missing piece of trail is kind of the first step towards that active transportation plan. We’re very excited for the future because we’re going to see more bike lanes and we’re going to see more connections in our community,” he said.
As someone who has grown up cycling and continues to do so, Belanger says that it’s something that everyone should be able to experience.
“Being able to hop on a bike and go to my friend’s house. What it gave, for me, was that sense of freedom and the ability to get around and just explore my neighbourhood and explore trails with my friends. To me, that’s vital. I think every youth, every individual in our community…should have that opportunity,” Belanger explained.”A program like this, for us, gets people who otherwise wouldn’t, actively cycling.”
The ReCycle program will be following proper safety precautions for its bike restorations. Belanger says that the volunteers involved have all been trained on how to thoroughly sanitize any bikes while also performing physical distancing.
ReCycle Bikes has been organized by the Discovery Routes Trails Organization since 2015, redistributing over 300 bikes into the North Bay community in that time.