By Scott Stafford, The Berkshire Eagle
WILLIAMSTOWN – An empty tractor-trailer will pull into the Colonial Plaza parking lot on Saturday morning and roll up its cargo door. By the time it pulls out a few hours later, organizers of the nonprofit group Bikes Not Bombs hope the truck will be packed with used bikes bound for Africa.
People are encouraged to go through the garage or basement and pull those old men and women, outside and inside the globe.
The donation drive will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside The Spoke, the bicycle shop at the western end of the shopping center.
The Massachusetts chapter of Bikes Not Bombs ships out of 7,000 to 8,000 bikes every year, according to Eric Mearns, former operations director of the organization that now lives in North America and is organizing this event as a volunteer.
The bicycles are being given the opportunity to get rid of bicycles, giving them a path to employment. They are shipped to help people in countries such as Uganda, Guatemala, El Salvador, Kenya, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
Donations of accessories, parts and tools are welcome. Monetary donations also help defray the cost of overseas shipping. There is a suggested donation of $ 10 for donated bike, but it is not required.
Bikes that are rusty won't work, nor will they kick scooters, tricycles, exercise equipment and anything with a motor.
The "prime" bicycle that is most popular for these mountain bikes with 26-inch wheels, which is best for areas without paved roads and paths at the end of a path or trail.
"In this country, bicycles are used primarily for recreation," Mearns noted. "In most parts of the developing world, paved roads and gas lines are difficult to find, and the bicycle is used as a super-efficient, primary form of transportation by students, teachers, doctors, and merchants. The unused bicycle in your garage or basement could have been used to save money for someone in another part of the world . "
The bikes donated at Saturday's event will be driven into a warehouse in Dorchester and loaded into shipping container, which will turn up wind ship on Monday cargo for Rwanda, Mearns said.
Once at their destination, the bikes will be refurbished and distributed to those in need.
Paul Rinehart, owner of The Spoke, said he hosted Bikes Not Bombs event in the 1990s, and gathered more than 100 donated bikes.
I know when Mearns approached him with the idea, he was all in.
"I already have about 30 bikes in the shop ready to go," Rinehart said. "Everybody should just go out into their garage and grab that old bike gathering dust and bring it down, 'cause we can put it to good use."
Scott Stafford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-629-4517.
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