How to host a bike drive in Chicago or the suburbs

Have any old bikes collecting dust in the garage? Working Bikes, a Chicago nonprofit, wants to give them new homes.

The organization that started as a one-man recycling effort in a Chicago garage has now grown over the past 16 years to provide more than 50,000 people around the world with a bike.

This spring, hone your child’s leadership skills and host a community bike drive that will teach them the importance of recycling, repurposing and giving back. Last year, Working Bikes supporters diverted about 9,000 bikes from scrap metal heaps through bike drives.

For a successful bike drive, follow these eight tips:

  1. Contact Working Bikes at or (773) 847-5440
  2. Plan a three-hour one-day event, preferably on a Saturday
  3. Consider incorporating your bike drive into a broader community event, such as a block party or festival.
  4. Pick a centrally located, easily identifiable location for the drive.
  5. 5 Working Bikes provides brochures, tax receipts and banners.
  6. 6 Secure at least two volunteers, but the more the merrier.
  7. 7 Publicize your event.
  8. On the day of the event, arrive early to get set up.

Once collected, bikes are repaired. Some are donated to partner organizations in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Others are gifted to homeless transition and youth empowerment programs in Chicago.

In May 2014, for example, Working Bikes collaborated with T.A.G. Foundation for the Bronzeville Bike Giveaway. During the event, 500 kids received bikes, new helmets and locks.

“I hope this encourages other ordinary people, like me, to do something big. There’s something beautiful about donation. It spreads more good karma,” T.A.G. Founder Angela Ford says.

Need a bike? Working Bikes also sells refurbished bikes in its 20,000-square-foot shop in Chicago’s Little Village. Proceeds benefit shipments of donated bikes.

Upcoming events

You can find upcoming donation events for bikes, parts and accessories here.


Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.
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