Having a bicycle is a big deal if you’re a child.

It’s like a rite of passage, said Daniel Byrd, the executive director of Kids on Bikes, a nonprofit that helps provide children access to bikes.

“For most kids, it’s a really simple tool that can have a very significant impact on their lives,” he said.

The nonprofit, founded in 2005, has three priorities: provide children access to rideable bikes, teach them bike safety and encourage people to ride more frequently, Byrd said.

“Rather than just giving bikes away, we wanted to focus on providing more ongoing opportunities to ride and the education that is necessary for a kid to take ownership of a bike,” he said. “It’s also largely in response to the nationwide childhood rise in obesity epidemic and realizing that kids aren’t as active and getting outside as much as they should be.”

Children can participate in earn-a-bike programs through the nonprofit’s community partners, Byrd said.

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“We have 13 bike libraries right now, which is a permanent place within neighborhoods where bike activities and education and programming takes place under our umbrella and through our training,” he said. “I know there were about 200 kids who earned a bike last year, with many more getting regular activity on bikes.”

The Colorado Springs native developed the earn-a-bike program model while working locally as a caseworker at Urban Peak.

Kids on Bikes has provided about 735 bikes to children since it opened its first physical space in 2016, called the Pedal Station, on South Tejon Street, Byrd said.

Bike donations are accepted at the Pedal Station and then refurbished and given away or sold for revenue that goes back into the nonprofit’s programming.

Byrd said the organization has kept more than 1,700 bikes out of landfills and provided about 168 bikes to kids in the last two years.

“There’s a whole lot of bikes that get donated and we need to keep that going,” he said. “We need to keep that growing. If people, by word of mouth, can let [others] know to donate their bike here, we will find a new purpose for it, but also we really need more volunteers.”

Accepting a bike donation is the easy part; however, it can take several hours to make the bike rideable, Byrd said.

“Besides needing the extra help, like all other nonprofits, we need more funding,” he said. “We are still applying for grants, but trying to raise dollars is always one of those bigger challenges.”

The key to bringing in more money is getting more people involved or interested in the nonprofit, Byrd said.

“There is a lot of room for growth and we have a lot of big goals and dreams for the future,” he said. “Being such a locally focused, one-neighborhood-at-a-time organization, we want to keep getting more and more individuals involved, whether they are $10-a-year donors or they volunteer three times a week.”

Byrd said Kids on Bikes has participated in the annual Give! campaign for several years now.

“Give! provides the platform to make donating easier,” he said, adding it gets the nonprofit in front of an audience with which it may not otherwise interact.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit holds summer bicycle camps as another way to generate revenue, Byrd said.

“We focus very simply but we are always dreaming big,” he said. “We bring the community together in a unique way that takes bicycles from peoples’ garages, not being used, and puts them into the hands of those who need them. And we are building up bicycling with kids, so that the next generation will advocate for more bike infrastructure and demand more bike facilities in their parks.” 

Donate through Dec. 31 to any of our 93 nonprofits at indygive.com.