BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — This week, many bicyclists are getting into gear as the nation celebrates Bike to Work Week. Western New York organizations are bringing awareness by making their daily commutes on two wheels.
“Sometimes when people are thinking about cyclists, they’re thinking of the tight spandex, big sunglasses,” said GOBike communications director Kevin Heffernan. “And while riding that way is certainly fun to go those high speeds, the majority of people who are on a bike are doing it because they don’t have a car, or two, because they absolutely love it.”
GOBike, an organization that advocates for the importance of sharing the road, held multiple events this week to unite cyclist groups to encourage others to get out on their bikes.
“It should remind everyone: 1. to get out and ride, 2. to watch out for cyclists while you’re driving,” Heffernan said. “If a cyclist is in your way, they are lawfully using the road, just give them some grace. Remember these are your neighbors. We’re all trying to get where we’re going safely.”
One local nonprofit is helping neighbors get to work by giving them their own set of wheels.
“It’s very motivating; it’s the primary driving force of this: to help people in need get a good start,” said Lorraine Townsend, who helps Wheels for Workers 716, which got its start last year.
Wheels for Workers 716, began when its founder started refurbishing bicycles to help migrants get to their new jobs. Now, with the help of more than 30 volunteers binding together to collect bikes throughout the community and a team of wrenches to fix them up, the group gets them ready to ride.
“You want it so that who ever is a recipient of a bike has a functioning bicycle that hopefully will hold up for a long period of time,” said Dennis Lefebvre, who works as a wrenches for Wheels for Workers 716.
Journey’s End has helped more than 3,000 refugees transition to life here in Western New York, they’ve seen wheels for workers 716’s impact first hand.
“Sometimes, there’s a barrier for language, but there’s no barrier when you can just see the smile on someone’s face when they receive a bicycle — they’re just so happy,” Journey’s End director of outreach and volunteers Andy Cammarata said. “We know that transportation is a real obstacle in our community, and so this allows — these bicycles really allow — our new families to hit the ground rolling, so to speak, to get to work, get to school, to access shopping and things like that.”
Wheels For Workers is always looking for Bike donations and new volunteers to join their team. To find out more information on how to get involved or to donate a bike, visit their website at this link or check out their Facebook page here.
For more information on Journey’s End Refugee Services, visit their website here.
For more information on GOBike Buffalo, visit their website here.
Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.