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Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

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What if you had to walk 3 hours to get to school?

Bicycles for South Africa (from

A study abroad experience when I was a student at Reed College changed how I thought about my access to transportation. As a student, I took my access to transportation for granted. I thought my life was hard when I missed the bus and had to bike ten minutes to get to school. This all changed when I met Mercy, a sixteen-year-old high school student in rural South Africa. She got up at 3 AM to get ready. Then she walked THREE HOURS to arrive on time for classes. That's six hours a day spent walking compared to my 20 minute round trip bike ride. Physical exhaustion and time spent walking are huge deterrents to the success of students in that position.

When I came back to Portland, I decided that I would work to reduce the burden of transportation for people like Mercy by sending bikes to Cape Town, South Africa. I am working with an incredible organization, Bicycles for Humanity to send 400 bicycles and tools to the Bicycle Empowerment Network in Cape Town. They will be distributed to people who would be significantly helped by access to a bicycle. The shipping container that the bikes are shipped in will be converted to a bike repair room and storage center.

I have been working on this project since January of 2009. February 16th, 2010, I received notification that we made the goal of $7,000. I am so happy. After all these months, and with all your help, I will now be able to send a shipping container of bicycles to students in rural South Africa. Again, I am so happy.

But that doesn't mean the party is over! Now the real fun begins: the search for 300-400 lightly used mountain bikes or cruisers. These bikes could be hiding in your very garage or in the garages of other generous folk in Portland. I encourage Portlanders to spread the word to friends and neighbors, relatives and business associates, anyone who might have a sad, neglected bike hoping for a new life in South Africa.

The Bicycles for Humanity collection is this Saturday, April 24 at the old Washington-Monroe High School on SE 14th and SE Alder from 10am-4pm. They will be collecting used (but in good condition) mountain bikes, cruisers, parts, tools, bike accessories, and monetary donations. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Various prizes and treats await good-hearted donors along with the profound feeling of donating sustainable transportation to school children.

For more information, please contact Jenny at or 925-354-1616. To follow our progress, please visit