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September 27, 2020

Program matches bicycles to essential workers

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—Amidst the ongoing health crisis, essential workers who do not own cars have remained reliant on public transportation and carpooling—two options that are both limited and not always safe.

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Bike Santa Cruz County (BSCC) hopes to alleviate that dependence. In June, the organization was contacted by Stephen Braitsch, a founder of the Bike Match Network, a national program that matches donated bicycles to essential workers.

Braitsch and fellow transportation activist Sam Sadle were inspired to start the Bike Match Network by a similar nonprofit in New York City. The program is now in 13 cities and counties across the United States.

“As this pandemic drags on, some people have no choice but to keep going to work,” said Chloe Ortiz, an intern at BSCC who has been coordinating the project locally. “Helping people do so in a safe way… that should be a priority. Biking is an important alternative.”

Donors and requesters are asked to fill out the required forms online. BSCC will use the information to match a donated bike to a recipient. All types of bicycles—but especially cruisers and road bikes—are welcome. 

Bikes that are donated should also be ready-to-ride, Ortiz said.

“At first we reached out to local shops to help us with bikes that would need repairs, but all of them are so overwhelmed right now,” she said. “Ideally we want the bikes to be in good condition when we get them.”

When applying for a match, requesters are asked to share their current situation, such as where they work and how having a bicycle will help them. Some answers have been surprising, Ortiz said.

“One woman was in Bonny Doon, where bus service is limited. But she also worked at a women’s shelter, which can be emotionally taxing,” Ortiz said. “She explained how having a bike could be good for her mental health, as well.”

For information on how to donate and request a bicycle, visit bikematch.network/santa-cruz.

Johanna Miller
Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.

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