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Boise Bicycle Project Partners with IDOC to Repair Kids' Bikes


Boise Bicycle Project Executive Director Jimmy Hallyburton came up with the idea to send bikes to the Idaho Department of Correction in the fall of 2015, after his nonprofit received more bike donations than it could keep up with. Piles of bikes stacked head-high overtook BBP's small backyard and Hallyburton's crew and volunteers were quickly overwhelmed.

Hallyburton reached out to IDOC Director Kevin Kempf in November and pleaded his case. If IDOC would be willing to let BBP bring 10-20 kids' bikes to the prison southeast of Boise once a week, where inmates would patch flat tires, replace rusted chains and adjust brakes, the bikes could be fixed up and delivered to kids in need all the sooner.

In exchange, inmates who participated in the program could earn credit toward getting their own bike at BBP upon their release. 

Kempf loved the idea.

"This just fits perfectly with what we want to do," he told Boise Weekly in November. "As a corrections system, we want to partner with the community. We know our inmates and our staff will be super excited about this. I just see it as a win-win."

After three months of discussion and planning, BBP has officially launched the program, which Hallyburton is calling "Shifting Gears." Already, 15 bikes have been delivered to IDOC and, on Friday, March 25, two BBP mechanics will lead the first training session with a group of inmates at the Women's Correctional Facility. 

BBP has partnered with Idaho's Bounty Cooperative—a local distributor of "farm to table" food—to deliver an additional 15 kids bikes to the Women's Correctional Facility every week. BBP will continue to offer two-hour classes to help inmates learn the basics of bike repair.

"This program could really solve a lot of problems for a lot of different people," Hallyburton stated in a news release. "It almost doubles the amount of bikes BBP is able to donate to kids while cutting our storage needs in half. And then it teaches bicycle maintenance skills to the women as they earn their bicycle for future transportation needs."

After fixing up 15 bikes, an inmate will receive a voucher for her own bike. When the program gets off the ground, BBP hopes to duplicate the program in the men's facility and possibly in correctional facilities nationwide.