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Upcycle Bikes donates bicycles to those in need

Upcycle Bikes

A program in Grand Rapids is providing free adult bicycles to anyone experiencing transportation challenges

Upcycle Bikes was founded by Rick Armbruster in 2022 with the goal of providing bicycles to incoming Afghan refugees in the Grand Rapids community. After reading a Facebook post about the transportation challenges they were facing, Armbruster knew there was a way he could give back.

“I kind of had this crazy idea that it would be fun to fix up bikes, but I didn’t want to sell them. I wanted to see if maybe there was a way to just donate them in the community and to see if there was a need.”

For some in our community, a driver’s license is often unattainable, so Armbruster put his passion for biking to work for them, by up-cycling used bicycles, repairing and donating them to those in need and, in turn, giving them back their independence and connecting them to their community and its resources.

“And that’s really our reason for being. You know, we’re providing that vehicle, pun intended I guess, to help them get to a job or to the grocery store or to school or to access medical care, so that feels really good.”

In 2023, Armbruster and his team of volunteers donated over 500 bikes to people throughout Grand Rapids. Each bike takes about two and a half hours to repair, and 95% of parts from unsalvageable bikes end up being recycled into working bicycles.

“There are a lot of unused bikes out there in their garages or their basements or whatever that have been sitting around for, in some cases years or decades and so that’s what powers our operation is that we take those bikes and we fix them up and make them safe again and functional again.”

If you would like to donate a bike or know someone who needs one, you can visit Armbruster’s website at UpcycleBikes.org

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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