Rice Bikes held the first in a series of monthly Bike + Beats, a bike drive and fundraiser to replace transportation lost to Hurricane Harvey, at their garage last Friday as part of a larger Houston-wide initiative.
According to branding manager Kristi Maulding, Rice Bikes’s first Bike + Beats resulted in two bicycles for Keep Houston Rolling, a partnership between local bicycle organizations and Rice Bikes that provides bicycles to the Houston community. Rice Bikes also raised over $150 in monetary donations for the JJ Watt Foundation, which also supports Harvey relief.
“I feel like the students don’t really have that many extra bikes laying around to donate,” Maulding, a Martel College senior, said. “I think the majority of the students, instead of donating bikes, donated money.”
Since they were established in 2012, Rice Bikes has formed relationships with many local organizations, including Keep Houston Rolling partners Houston BCycle and FreeWheels Houston, two local non-profit organizations aiming to expand the Houston cycling community. According to BCycle office manager Miles Wilson, of the 400 bikes donated, six have been given out so far.
“With the torrential flooding from Harvey, within a few days lots of people lost their main option for transportation,” Wilson, a senior at the University of Houston - Downtown, said. “We hope that ‘Keep Houston Rolling’ will be able to provide a form of transportation to people who would not otherwise have any for an extended period of time. If we can make the lives of those impacted marginally easier by providing them with a bike, we would consider that a win.”
According to Wilson, only 60 of the 400 bikes donated have been from bike drives rather than from bike companies Trek and Giant, but Rice Bikes plans to do more drives, especially geared towards faculty and staff.
“The way we get refurbished bikes too is [because] RUPD collects all the bikes that have been left on the bike racks for months that people abandon,” Maulding said. “We donate some of that to Keep Houston Rolling.”
According to Rice Bikes general manager Lydia Dick, Bike + Beats will continue to serve as a promotional event and as a fundraiser for Keep Houston Rolling or other charities.
“We want to make sure that Rice Bikes has a sustained contribution to rebuilding Houston in the aftermath of Harvey, through the angle of fixing bikes,” Dick, a Martel College senior, said. “We knew that we didn't have the resources to donate large plots of money like other organizations can and so we really like to use our expertise to try to help people refurbish bikes and get them on the road.”
Immediately following Harvey, a team of seven mechanics went out to a warehouse owned by FreeWheels to assist in repairing bikes, Dick said. Over the course of the semester, Rice Bikes mechanics plan to help build and fix 400 bicycles.
“I feel like Rice in general gets stuck behind the hedges and since we are a full-service bike shop, we have a lot that we can offer,” Maulding said. “Especially when there’s a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey, it’s the least we can do to help out others. If people lost their cars and we can fix bikes, we should do whatever we can to help.”
Keep Houston Rolling is a post-Harvey collaboration between local organizations to redistribute donated bikes to community members in need.
The J.J. Watt Hurricane Harvey relief fund raised over $37 million.
FreeWheels Houston provides bicycles for refugees in Houston.