published Monday, July 6th, 2009

Groups plan pedal power for the homeless


by Adam Crisp
Audio clip

Philip Pugliese

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell
    Outdoor Chattanooga is accepting donated bikes, like shown here, to be fixed up and donated to homeless people. The project, called, Peddle Power, is a partnership between the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, Outdoor Chattanooga and the City of Chattanooga's Art of Change Program.

Homeless people spend so much of their days walking that foot-related health problems rank among their chief complaints, advocates say.

And all that time spent hoofing it from one service to another means less time spent on searching for jobs or housing.

That's why the Chattanooga Community Kitchen and Outdoor Chattanooga teamed up to give the homeless some pedal power.

"A bicycle is just a very efficient means of transportation," said Philip Pugliese, bicycle coordinator for Outdoor Chattanooga. "If it can enable someone to make it to another business, another place of employment, or another service, that can help them better themselves."

Homeless advocates long have said many homeless people spend all day walking from one kitchen to another just so they can be sure to get enough food. Diverting from a kitchen stop to a job interview perhaps would mean the person would go hungry.

"It's easy to figure that many homeless people walk eight to 12 miles a day," said Jans Christiansen, who works at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. "That's the reason we offer foot-care as a part of our services."

Under the new program, the Community Kitchen will evaluate and approve applications for bicycles. Outdoor Chattanooga will collect the bikes, provide training and give a helmet and a bike lock to the homeless person.

Bikes will come from donations from the public and will be repaired with money from Mayor Ron Littlefield's Art of Change program, Mr. Pugliese said.

"Ideally, we'd like to have about 50 to get the program started and working," he said, adding that so far organizers have collected about seven bikes.

Bikes don't have to be expensive, but they shouldn't require major overhauls, the men said.

WANT TO HELP?

Contact Outdoor Chattanooga to make a donation of a bicycle for a homeless person: 423-643-6888 or visit www.outdoorchattanooga.com.

"We figure that just about everyone has a bike in their garage that they aren't using," Mr. Christiansen said. "This is a way to use that bike in a positive way."

Said Mr. Pugliese: "I'd like to see everyone out riding their bikes as a means of transportation, but if they aren't using them, this is a good use."

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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cannonball said...

Nice jesture folks. Now I know where to go to get a great deal on a used bike.

July 6, 2009 at 7:04 a.m.
Jhenry said...

A nice gesture for sure. Not sure how its going to help though.

July 6, 2009 at 1:31 p.m.
GreenKepi said...

Great! In a couple of months, we'll see a bunch of discarded, beat up bikes lying around in the streets and on the sidewalks....

July 6, 2009 at 7:26 p.m.
danlill said...

As Director of R Community Bikes in Rochester NY, I can assure you that these efforts will not go unrewarded. To date, this year alone,we have distributed over 700 used, repaired bicycles to the Rochester community. Included in this number is several hundred to our growing refugee population. These bikes will provide a means of transportation to jobs, appointments, programs and school for many of the recipients. We require a letter of reference and a lock and chain for security (one can be purchased from us at cost,$5). Blessings on Pedal Power and their efforts. Peace Dan Lill www.rcommunitybikes.net>

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