If you have ever gotten on a bike, you know that riding gives you a certain feeling of freedom. Of course, cycling is good for your physical health, but it can also improve your emotional health, connect you with the resources around you and serve as a basis for connection with others. Bicycling can change lives in many different ways. These charities help to promote biking accessibility and safety to create a bike culture that improves individuals and their communities.
PeopleForBikes is one of the biggest cycling advocacy groups in the world. The organization’s mission is to improve the bicycling experience for everyone. The company has invested more than $30 million since its foundation in 1999 to make bicycling better. PeopleForBikes contributes to other national cycling charities to make the world a safer place to ride.
One of the programs that PeopleForBikes offers is the Better Bike Share Partnership, which is a collaboration with The JPB Foundation that helps establish streamlined bike share programs.
It’s not just an organization; it’s a movement. PeopleForBikes has connected the bicycle industry with individual riders to create one powerful voice. It represents all kinds of riders, including professional athletes and children who simply enjoy riding a bike. The organization has created political influence that has quadrupled federal investment in cycling.
You can take action by letting political leaders know that bicycling is important to you, sharing your story or donating to the organization.
2. Trips For Kids
Trips For Kids helps introduce at-risk youth to cycling. It’s the largest youth development cycling association in the U.S. The organization’s mission is to provide transformational cycling experiences to young people in every community.
The idea is that kids should be able to explore their environment and know the freedom of riding a bike. Bicycling in nature can help them expand their horizons, practice teamwork, empower themselves and establish independence.
The first chapter was established in 1988. Social activist Marilyn Price delivered bicycle trail riding lessons to help kids learn about responsibility, achievement and environmental responsibility. The organization still runs a Trail Rides Program, which offers group trail riding in local parks, forests and other natural areas. It encourages children to develop relationships with peers, improve their self-confidence, connect with nature and learn the value of physical activity.
Local Trips for Kids chapters create relationships with community organizations that work with children, like Boys and Girls Clubs and the YMCA, and invite them on excursions led by CPR/First Aid certified ride leaders. Leaders incorporate lessons about history, ecology and geology in their trail rides.
Trips For Kids also offers Earn-a-Bike Workshops. These after-school programs teach children about bike maintenance and safety. While participating in projects, the children get credits that they can use to get their own bicycle.
Mobile Bike Clinics provide access to bicycles and safety equipment for kids in need. This program brings the bikes to the children to teach them bicycling skills and safety.
3. World Bicycle Relief
After the devastation of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, F.K. and Leah Day created World Bicycle Relief to bring bicycles to people in need. They collaborated with aid organizations in Sri Lanka to supply bicycles to people who were displaced to help them regain access to careers, education and healthcare. The organization has distributed more than 24,000 bikes and reconnected entire communities through that project alone.
After that, they partnered with RAPIDS, a health initiative in Zambia that trained and outfitted healthcare workers to help fight the AIDS epidemic. More than 23,000 bicycles have been distributed with this program.
The organization has since developed multiple programs to enable access to bicycles in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. It builds and allocates specially designed bikes that are rugged enough to handle the rural terrain in many developing countries. In 2015, it deployed almost 65,000 bicycles to people who needed them.
Qhubeka allows people to earn bicycles to help them get to jobs, doctors and schools. The word “qhubeka” means “to progress” or “to move forward,” which is exactly what bicycles help people do in more ways than one. Bicycles can help individuals access the resources that they need in their communities, but they also allow entire societies to progress.
This non-profit company has delivered more than 75,000 bicycles to people in need. Schoolchildren can earn bicycles by making a commitment to school attendance. Adults can volunteer in many areas, from planting trees to performing bike maintenance, to earn their own bicycles. Health workers are given bicycles to help them access their patients more easily.
The organization also offers sports programs, which promote a healthy cycling culture and give people transportation to other sports activities. Finally, Qhubeka gives first responders bikes so that they can help as many people as possible during disaster recovery efforts.
You can help by donating, fundraising, volunteering or shopping at Qhubeka’s online store.
5. Wheels 4 Life
Wheels 4 Life was founded by Hans Rey, a former Mountain Bike World Champion. It aims to help people in developing countries have access to the bicycles that they need for transportation to work and school. This program has helped people find and retain jobs, receive an education and even access health care.
Working with local volunteers and leaders, Wheels 4 Life identifies the people who are most in need of this type of transportation. This may include people who live in remote areas who don’t have access to or can’t afford public transportation.
A bike allows people to travel four times faster, four times farther and with four times the load as traveling on foot. Something as simple as access to a bicycle can significantly benefit someone’s life.
The organization carefully selects candidates based on a comprehensive application process. A local Voluntary Project Leader helps to bestow the bicycles to the recipients and guarantees to provide safety and maintenance education.
For every $150 that is donated, the organization can purchase one regular bike. A donation of $300 funds an ambulance bike. However, a donation of any amount is appreciated. Holding a fundraiser or simply spreading the word about the organization’s mission can also help. Wheels 4 Life has provided more than 11,029 bicycles in over 30 countries, but it says that there is a need for millions more bicycles.
6. National Interscholastic Cycling Association
NICA has worked to establish cycling programs in schools for athletes who desire to race mountain bikes. It also provides guidance and services for regional leagues to develop mountain bike events.
The organization’s vision is to supply every young American with the chance to build a strong mind, body and character through interscholastic cycling. It does everything from providing athlete skills development to training coaches in maintaining national standards. It also helps leagues get started and run smoothly.
Leagues accomplish NICA’s mission at the local level. Programs include:
- New league development program
- League membership program
- Student-athlete membership program
- Coaches license program
- Teen train corps
- NICA awards banquet
- Indie club program
Individual leagues hold races, offer team programs and organize pledge drives. They also offer rider camps and clinics. CycleFest brings people in the community together for a group ride and banquet.
7. International Mountain Biking Association
IMBA’s mission is to give everyone a place to ride a mountain bike. This non-profit organization works to create and protect mountain biking trails and areas. Established in 1988, the organization provides education about low-impact riding, sustainable trail design and creative land management strategies.
IMBA provides professional resources and services for landowners and groups that want to develop trails for the sport. Trail-training seminars help people learn about building trails and managing crews to help with the projects.
It has participated in more than 400 trail projects around the world. The organization has also helped develop the current guidelines for bike trail implementation that are used as a standard for developing mountain biking trails across the globe. The IMBA Trail Lab program teaches leaders and people who work in the park and tourism services about how to integrate trail access into the community.
Donating to the charity helps support IMBA’s programs and initiatives that make mountain biking possible.
Mountain2Mountain works to empower women in Afghanistan to create opportunities for them to cycle. Being a female cyclist in conflict zones comes with a particular set of concerns. Women are at risk every time they hop on a bike. However, Mountain2Mountain believes that there are ways to help them retain the access that they need to take part in the sport that they love.
Cycling for women had always been considered taboo in Afghanistan. Now, women are riding publicly and competing professionally. Mountain2Mountain helped the men’s and women’s cycling teams in Afghanistan get equipment and gear to help them get on their bikes and train.
9. Gearing Up
Gearing Up is another bicycle charity that focuses on women. The organization organizes group bike rides for women who have been impacted by abuse, addiction or incarceration.
Gearing Up is more than a tool to help women stay healthy. It’s also a safe space where women, as well as trans and GNC individuals, can gather to support and encourage one another. Through the program, people can build friendships and connect with the community. This leads to personal growth as well as the positive development of society.
The program is voluntary for people who are enrolled in specific substance abuse treatment programs in the Philadelphia area. They get together for rides several times a week. The more they participate, the more points they can earn to trade in for incentives like water bottles and other gear. When they earn 150 points, they can get a free bicycle.
10. CYCLE Kids
CYCLE Kids uses the practical and enjoyable skill of riding a bike to teach children the tools to lead healthy lives. It has been shown that many children don’t get the physical activity that they need for their physical, emotional and cognitive health. However, tackling childhood obesity must be a holistic effort. Teaching and encouraging children to ride bikes helps them gain confidence and independence as they get their daily exercise requirements.
The CYCLE Kids program is fun and engaging, which makes children want to participate. They will also pass along their knowledge and education to their parents so that they can help make healthy habits a routine.
In addition to learning bike riding skills, children in the program get lessons that challenge them to apply what they have learned. They must complete creative writing and journaling assignments and learn about nutrition. The program offers a 2-year curriculum that can be implemented by their teachers at school.
Assessments have shown that the CYCLE Kids program has resulted in a 52 percent increase in physical activity, a 71 percent improvement in nutritional intelligence, a 48 percent improvement in personal growth and a 48 percent improvement in social growth.
11. Transportation Alternatives
In a busy city where driving and parking can be difficult, many people use bikes as their main form of transportation. Transportation Alternatives says that the sidewalks of New York City make up 80 percent of the public space there. People need space to be able to maneuver through the maze of traffic.
Since 1970, TransAlt has constructed more than 1,000 miles of cycling paths in the city and introduced protected bike lanes. The organization also established the first public bike share system in New York City.
The mission is to achieve Vision Zero, which means no serious injuries or deaths resulting from the city’s busy traffic. The group works to improve infrastructure and change traffic regulations to make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
TransAlt arranges bike tours that serve as fundraisers for their projects. You can also support its campaigns by creating a petition, signing a petition or gathering people to organize your own campaign. TransAlt provides workshops that teach the public how to use their voices for activism and plan and run awareness and fundraising events.