One of the best things about the beautiful Fox River Trail is how it brings the community together. Young and old, men and women, there are few folks who don’t enjoy a beautiful day along the riverfront.
“It’s one reason people move to this area. It’s one of this community’s best attributes,” says Batavia resident Matt Knowles. “There’s a large cycling community here and people can enjoy can cycle for three or four miles and be in the next town if they want to enjoy a meal or drink. Batavia is the best place to start and end your ride. There are lots of great shops and restaurants.”
And to make that idea possible for anyone and everyone, Knowles helped establish Bikes for Batavia, a program that provides bikes for individuals and families in need.
Knowles, who is the owner of All Spoked Up, a bike shop located right along the Fox River Trail, has worked with Bikes for Batavia to give away about 400 bikes since its inception five years ago.
“Biking is about freedom,” he says. “When you have a bike, you’re not bound to a particular location. You can get around. Everyone should have a bike.”
Knowles, who has been a member of the Batavia Bike Commission since 2009, worked with Joanne Spitz, co-founder CHIP IN Batavia, to start Bikes for Batavia, which receives donations of gently used bikes. Knowles is the program’s administrator, while Spitz and her organization work to identify families who need and/or want bikes. In addition to referrals from CHIP IN Batavia, Bikes for Batavia works with the local school district to identify children and teens who need bikes.
They provide information about the students, such as whether they are a boy or a girl, as well as their height and grade level Knowles works with the program to match recipients with the right bikes for them.
The students come to the bike shop on a bike pickup day, where they are outfitted with a bike, a helmet and a lock.
Individuals who wish to donate a gently used bicycle can drop them off at All Spoked Up, where they are repaired and stored until a student comes to pick them up.
Parts are replaced with the help of small monetary donations from local organizations, and Knowles and his team and All Spoked Up donate the labor to spruce up the bikes before they’re given away.
“The recipients are so grateful,” he says. “We gave out 15 bikes for Christmas. One mother told me she wouldn’t have been able to afford bikes for her whole family if it wasn’t for us.”
And Bikes for Batavia is not just about getting little kids a bike to ride with friends. For some recipients, the bike is their primary mode of transportation, helping get them get to work or the doctor.
“For people who don’t have a car, it’s essential,” Spitz says. “I worked with a man who walked to work every day and when we gave him a bike, he told me it changed his life.”
For more information about Bikes for Batavia, visit All Spoked Up’s website at www.allspokedup.com.