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Milwaukie police join Portland bike shop to offer bikes to kids in need

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

A Milwaukie Police Department photo
from the first giveaway, in 2011.

A three-year-old experiment that distributes unclaimed bikes to low-income kids in Milwaukie has taken root, with the help of Milwaukie’s police and Sellwood shop The Bike Commuter.

Last week, the program gave 50 bikes to students at four Milwaukie elementary schools and one middle school. Most were unclaimed bikes collected by TriMet police and the Milwaukie police department, but unclaimed by owners (many of whom haven’t recorded their bikes’ serial numbers, as recommended).

The Bike Commuter, a shop in nearby Sellwood that opened in 2010 with the help of a loan from Mercy Corps Northwest, donated their mechanics’ time to make the necessary repairs, as they have for the last two years.

The bike recipients had been chosen by school staff as those who could benefit most from a bike donation.

“I just think kids lately have stopped riding bikes — more and more, for various reasons,” Bike Commuter co-owner Eric Deady said Tuesday. “Especially being low-income kids that may not otherwise have access to a bike — it’s fantastic to give those kids access. … They have something that’s theirs and experience that freedom.”

Deady’s shop, which is at Southeast 13th Avenue and Umatilla, also chipped in six new bikes from its own stock, and Clackamas County Fire District No. 1 donated 50 bicycle helmets to the children.

It’s always nice to see lost or stolen bikes being put to good use when they go unclaimed. In Portland, where the police department often donates unclaimed bikes to the Community Cycling Center, bike theft itself may be on the decline: the department reported Tuesday that theft reports fell 13 percent from 2011 to 2012. There were some interesting trends in that data. Stay tuned for a more detailed report.

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