In Portland, the lower your income, the more likely you are to use a bicycle to get to work. That’s also true on the national level, as Harvard’s Anne Lusk so adeptly pointed out in an article posted by CityLab this week.
Most discussions around this topic center on the need for infrastructure equity and access to safe streets for all. But what about access to the gear and products that can make the act of pedaling a bike more feasible and comfortable?
Portland’s Community Cycling Center (celebrating their 25th anniversary this year!) is dedicated to making cycling accessible to everyone. I recently learned they have Low Income Commuter Discount program at their bike shop on Alberta Street and asked Executive Director Kasandra Griffin to share more about it.
Griffin said the program has been available for about 10 years. For most of that time the program offered just a 10 percent discount on a limited number of items. But in 2016, with the cost of living in the neighborhoods around their shop continue to grow, the program expanded. Now those who qualify can get 20 percent off everything in the store, including new and used bikes and even service.
The discount is available to anyone who receives income-based government benefits like Oregon Trail/SNAP or Oregon Health Plan. And you don’t have to be from Oregon. Live in Washington and have a “Quest Card”? They’ll accept that too.
Another recent change in the program came last year. Instead of requiring people to request the discount at the register each time they made a purchase, the discount information is now on file in the shop’s computer. Once a sales staffer can confirm a customer’s identity, the price reduction happens automatically. This means even if you forget to mention your eligibility, you still get the benefit.
With these changes, Griffin says the program is taking off. Last year the CCC gave out about $35,000 in discounts. This year they’re on track for over $50,000.
If you’re wondering how the CCC pays for this generous subsidy, they don’t. That is, they have no dedicated funding source for the program. It relies on donations from shop customers. According to Griffin, some people who get the discount have even opted to give a little back to help support others who need it more.
This is just one way the CCC helps people who have less money than others. Their Sunday Salvage program lets people buy used frames and other parts for super-low prices.
If you want more information about this program or can make a donation to help keep it going, check out CommunityCyclingCenter.org/bike-shop.
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