Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County (BikeAAA) has been selected as one of ten winners of the Park Tool 2021 Community Grant Program. BikeAAA was chosen from more than 300 applicants and will receive two new Park Tool Repair Stands, one Park Tool Professional Mechanic Tool Kit, five shop aprons and one Big Blue Book of Bike Repair. In addition, as the sole winner of the 2021 Park Tool President’s Choice Award, BikeAAA will receive an additional $1,000 of Park Tool repair equipment and tools.
“I was particularly impressed by the work our President’s Choice Award winner BikeAAA is doing with bicycle advocacy and community outreach, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they and our other winners put these resources to good use” said Eric Hawkins, Park Tool’s president/owner and chief mechanic. The award will be used by the Wheels of Hope program, a collaboration among BikeAAA, Anne Arundel County Medical Center, the Bike Patrol Unit of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, Bike Doctor Crofton, and the Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank. It is comprised solely of volunteers who contribute time and effort to repair donated bicycles that mostly go to children and adults in underserved communities for exercise, recreation, and transportation. Each recipient also receives a new bike safety helmet provided by either BikeAAA or from a grant administered by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) and Safe Kids Maryland.
Some of the organizations the Wheels of Hope program has supported include the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team, Annapolis Police Department’s Reentry Program, One Annapolis, the Housing Authority City of Annapolis – Robinwood, Centro de Ayuda, Maryland Reentry Resource Center, Langton Green, and the Tyler Heights Pop Up Pantry. Since the program was first launched in the summer of 2018, Wheels of Hope has distributed nearly 200 bicycles. Among the team of volunteer mechanics are two individuals who once owned bike businesses.
Many of the bikes come from commercial retailers who provide new bikes damaged during shipment or arrived with missing parts or were returned by customers with a mechanical issue. Other gently used bikes come from individual donors and may need to have some worn out parts replaced or a general tune-up and cleaning. On occasion, Wheels of Hope has also received donations of spare bicycle parts.
In September 2019, work area and storage space for the Wheels of Hope program was provided by the Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank, and volunteers built a workbench and shelves for storing bins of parts cannibalized from unrepairable bicycles. A process for managing bike and helmet inventory was established and repairs were prioritized. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Food Bank to restrict some access to the bike work area, so volunteers took bikes and repaired them at home. However, one of the biggest limitations has been not having the tools needed to make all the repairs required on some bikes.
The Park Tool grant will make a huge difference in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the program. More information about the grant program and Park Tool in general can be found at https://www.parktool.com/blog/news
For more information about the Wheels of Hope program, to include volunteer opportunities and making bike donations, we encourage you to visit this site: https://bikeaaa.org/wheels-of-hope-refurbished-bikes/