This is one of the most effective ways to help a homeless person or anyone without transportation. A bike can get a person to a job, the store, a clinic, the VA, church, and on and on. Most of the bikes we give are used for going to a job. A bike literally triples the number of job opportunities by expanding persons travel area. Also, as a person is more mobile they tend to be more optimistic about life. I have had great success with this type of assistance.
How do you select people to give bikes to? Here is what I do. If a person has a job or gets various odd jobs and does not appear to be a drug addict or an alcoholic then they would be a good prospect. If a person is obviously an addict then they would not be a good prospect. For people with addiction issues you would want to stick with bus passes and street survival guides. We have separate articles that cover these ministries.
Bikes are normally fairly easy to acquire. Adult bikes that are either 24″ or 26″ are best. A small adult can use a 24″ and a larger adult would need a 26″. A mountain bike or beach cruiser are the most versatile. It is a good idea to also give the person a lock. A bike without a lock is at risk of theft. Also, a small flashlight for the front and reflective tape (red) for the rear will keep the bike legal at night. A basket of some sort provides a way to transport groceries and supplies.
You can find bikes at garage sales, thrift stores and through Craigslist or the Shopper. Prices run from $25 – $50 per bike. You can often get locks for around $12 for a pack of three. You can also get bikes on clearance at Academy for as low as $63. (sometimes)
This is not a ministry for a person on a budget but it is a very effective one. Also, don’t be discouraged if you find that a person you provided a bike for has sold it for cash. This happens now and then. On the bright side, they often sell it to another homeless person. Keep in mind that whenever you give someone else you do it with no strings attached. If they choose to take their only means of transportation and cash it in then that is on them.
You are going to need a way to transport bikes. A truck is great but a car with a trailer is also fine.