Pedals for Progress Sends Bicycles Overseas to Boost Opportunity, Improve Economic Conditions

Area residents with an adult or child’s bicycle in repairable condition are urged to consider a donation to Pedals for Progress (P4P) in West Granby this weekend.  The national organization rescues bicycles destined for overburdened U.S. landfills and ships them to developing countries where they are sorely needed and highly valued. Last year, bike collections were sponsored by approximately 41 community partners in six states, including Connecticut. P4P bikes are put to work not only as basic transportation, but are used as a supplement to school and community programs. The bikes are adapted for use as trash haulers, produce trucks, taxis, and farm machinery.bicycle 1

With overseas partners, the bicycles take on an even greater significance – to keep the bikes working, maintenance is necessary. Children and adults are trained in bicycle maintenance and repair, and the bicycles are sold within the community, fostering the development of a local economy. If a person would like to have a bicycle but cannot pay for it, that person has to work for the shop (and learn a new skill) in order to cover the cost of the bicycle.

P4P also arranges for the bicycle shops to have a supply of tools, parts, accessories, and lubricants for maintaining the bikes. With Pedals for Progress, a bicycle becomes a valuable commodity for trade, employment, transportation, local government – the list goes on.

Sponsored by Jackie Rubell Johnson with support from Holcomb Farm, bikes can be dropped off from 12 noon to 3 PM on Saturday May 23, 2015, rain or shine at Holcomb Farm, 113 Simsbury Road, in West Granby. [“Bikes for parts” or disassembled bikes are not accepted.] It costs $40 to collect, process, ship, rebuild and distribute each bicycle. A donation toward shipping costs is necessary.  Organizers ask for a minimum $10 donation with each bike or sewing machine to help cover the cost of shipping. Receipts are offered for value of donation including cash.

P4P collects 5,000 to 7,000 bicycles annually and transfers this material wealth to those in need. To date, more than 140,000 have been shipped to developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.  Last year, the bicycles were donated to recipients in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Albania, Moldova, and Madagascar. Pedals1

In these countries the bikes are reconditioned by partner agencies and distributed at low cost to poor working adults. These bikes provide reliable transportation for commuting to work, transporting product to market, or accessing health care and other services. Steady employment for is vital to the development and success of these economies.

In 2014, Pedals for Progress shipped a total of 3,634 bicycles, 274 sewing machines, and approximately $360,000 in bicycle parts and accessories, to seven nonprofit agency partners in seven developing countries. That brought the cumulative donations shipped in the last 24 years, since the organization’s inception in 1991, to 142,437 bicycles, 2,860 sewing machines, and over $12 million in parts and accessories donated to 38 countries.

Among the organizations providing support are the Clif Bar Family Foundation, FedEx and Thulé.   Connecticut organizations that participated in collecting bicycles in 2014, in addition to Jackie Rubell Johnson with support from Holcomb Farm in West Granby, include Newtown Rotary Club, Old Greenwich Presbyterian Church, and the Wilton High School Spanish Honor Society.

bicycle 2The organization also accepts working portable sewing machines and P4P seeks donations of wrenches for their overseas shops. All cash and material donations are fully deductible and a receipt will be available at the collection site.

Pedals for Progress is a 501 © (3) corporation and a registered charity in the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Iowa and Connecticut.  More information about the organization is available at; for information about the May 23 pick-up in West Granby, call 860 653 7758.