East Side Bike Drive: The Power of Working Together

By: Melissa Roy

Bikes for Everyone

What will you do when the weather gets warm? 500 kids across the East Side will be testing out their wheels on sidewalks of Warren, the streets of St. Clair Shores and bike paths of Sterling Heights. Do you want to be a part of it?

The East Side Bike Drive started out as an idea in the summer of 2016. It became a reality after a community-wide collection effort and hundreds of labor hours from generous and talented volunteers.
This initiative will culminate on May 20th at Freedom Hill. It all began with the thought that we could mobilize more kids around Macomb County by getting them on bikes. What we ended up with is program that has brought our community together, a show of force throughout Macomb County and over 500 bikes for kids on the east side and their families.


Clinton Township proudly displays part of their bike collection effort

Macomb County has a wealth of natural resource assets, great bike trails and biking destinations. In fact, the county has an overall enviable geographic location and enviable community assets. Our collection of communities of varying population, density and character, nestled on the shores of Lake St. Clair and covering the eastern portion of the Detroit Metropolitan Region has also been gifted with a robust agricultural community, three major Huron-Clinton Metroparks and over 30 miles of the Clinton River winding through our local communities and their natural assets.

Despite the wealth of natural resources, access to good jobs and a relatively healthy economy, the health rankings of the county have been historically low.  A couple of the driving factors are a lack of mobility and a low percentage of active lifestyles.

This brought us to the conclusion that we needed better recreation access and better recreation marketing.  If this was our need, why not free up unused resources (extra bikes in garages across Macomb County) and deliver them to kids?  After receiving a bicycle, the kids will have access to recreation, health and their first taste of freedom.

Clinton Township, Macomb Township, Harrison Township, Washington Township, Mt. Clemens, Roseville and Sterling Heights all pitched in to collect bikes.  Residents donated brought bikes from all corners of the county and beyond to total 800 bikes.  After assessment and repairs, we will have 500 – 600 bikes to give away.

Helga Babich of Sterling Heights is standing at the end a row of repaired bicycles at the Belmont Shopping Center.  Belmont generously allowed Advancing Macomb free space for an energized team of volunteers to work on bikes throughout the winter.

Volunteers got started in the late fall – cleaning up the workshop spaces and organizing the bikes for repair over the winter.  Repair workshops began in January.  The team of volunteers was led by Gary Babich, Ken Koster, Dennis Dickty, Michael Hibbert, and Bill Appleberry.  They proudly just completed their last repair on April 20th.

We have begun to assemble a list of recipients, supplied by local schools, Macomb County Head Start and children’s groups across the county.  AIT Logistics of Romulus has donated transportation to move the bikes from the workshop to Freedom Hill. 

The whole team is excited to see everything come together on May 20th.  Bike recipients will also receive bike helmets and safety lessons, bike repair lessons and information from groups across the county that can provide additional resources to families across the eastside – nutrition programs, summer camps, after-school programs and of course – bike clubs and bike shops to promote rides and events throughout the summer.   It will be a celebration of cycling, good health and a celebration of fun. 

If you would like to volunteer for the final phase during the week of May 14-20th, send us your contact information and availability.

A big, big thank you to our supporters, partners, and sponsors

AIT Worldwide Logistics
No Bike Left Behind
CARE of Southeast Michigan
Macomb County Executive Office
Leadership Macomb
Thoughtful Missions
Macomb YMCA
Belmont Shopping Center
Macomb County Community Action
Paul’s Bike Depot
Macomb Bike & Fitness
Macomb Intermediate School District
Meijer
Chemical Bank
St. John Ascension
Slow Spokes Bicycle Club

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