I came across a Facebook page the other day that really caught my eye, because there's nothing I love more than seeing folks trying to make a difference in their own back yard. Not to say that people shouldn't operate on a global level, but taking care of the people where you live is as noble a cause as anything else in the world.

I swapped some emails with Ken Allen, the founder of Pedal It Forward Ellsworth. He began the program as just a simple thank-you to the biking community that means so much to him.

I started the program as an attempt to return the kindness I have experienced through the biking community, and as an extension of a group ride bike club that I try to run for kids in town.

Around Thanksgiving, he wanted to collect a few bikes that he could repair and turn around as gifts for those that needed them for Christmas time. Once word got around a bit, he found he had a lot of bikes to work with, giving him the raw materials he needed to help some folks out.

I started collecting shortly before Thanksgiving with an intent to distribute a few bikes as Christmas presents to those who could make use. I was able to donate 39 bikes in 23 days through an overwhelming response from the community. Cold weather and post holiday lull brought a quiet period, but to date I have donated 52 bikes in total.

He asks for all these donations through the Facebook page to get more inventory. It's a combination of functioning and non-functioning bikes that works for Ken. The condition of a donated bicycle is almost irrelevant because bikes in bad condition are simply mined for spare parts to get other bikes in working order. Ken added this:

As you saw, I ask for donations via Facebook. I make arrangements with those who have materials to donate, and pick them up when I can at the convenience of those who are willing to give. I bring home all donated bikes and determine which can be made safe and ready to ride. Those that are not able to be refurbished are used for parts and materials. Rebuilt bikes are offered through the Pedal It Forward page as I'm able to make them available.

Ken has also forged relationship with the local FEDCAP program to provide bikes to folks who are in need of a form of transportation to and from work. And also with other outreach programs in the city of Ellsworth such as the Ellsworth Green Plan and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. And Ken Allen also has much bigger plans as he moves into the future.

My aim is to expand and grow the program into a recognized non profit with a focus on community empowerment and accessibility.

So definitely give the Pedal It Forward Ellsworth Facebook page a like! And if you've got an old hand-me-down bicycle that needs to go away, but you would love to do something cool with your old trusty bike instead of throwing it in the scrap heap, give Ken Allen a shout!

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