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Boise Bicycle Project Gears Up for Its Annual Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway

“When we get these applications we have a picture of what [the kids] have in their minds. We go through the bikes we’ve prepared and do our best to match them up one-to-one."

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“It’s like riding a bike” is an elegantly universal comparison. Bicycling is one of the world’s most common—and inexpensive—modes of transportation. According to Forbes, there were an estimated 133 million bikes built and sold to retailers worldwide in 2011. That’s more than twice as many bikes produced than cars, and a 500 percent increase from the mid-20th century.

But that comparison is still subject to factors like poverty, and of the 9,015 bikes built by Boise Bicycle Project, the nonprofit has given away about two-thirds of them through programs like the Christmas Kid’s Bike Giveaway, according to BBP Volunteer Coordinator Clint Watson. For the last seven years, BBP has built and given away 5,000-6,000 bikes to children in need, and this year, it will donate as many as 350 bikes as part of its Christmas Kid’s Bike Giveaway.

Beginning in early November, the Boise Bicycle Project workshop, where cyclists from across the community have learned to repair and maintain their bikes, becomes something of a Santa’s workshop, with two or three volunteers teaming up to refurbish secondhand bikes. BBP has open shop nights twice a week, and about 30 volunteers participate in bike builds. The bikes are then given a once-over by BBP staff and paired with applications submitted by children without bikes of their own.

“When we get these applications we have a picture of what [the kids] have in their minds. We go through the bikes we’ve prepared and do our best to match them up one-to-one. It may not be perfect but in their minds it looks pretty close. That’s kind of the magic of the program,” Watson said.

Last year, BBP gave away 318 bikes during the event, and Watson said that this year, BBP expects to surpass that number, since each year, the number of applications for giveaway bikes increases by 25-50.

The eighth annual Christmas Kid’s Bike Giveaway goes down at BBP headquarters from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20. Email clint@boisebicycleproject.org for more info, to refer a child or donate a bicycle.