Truckee’s Pedal Project brings bikes to kids, residents in need | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s Pedal Project brings bikes to kids, residents in need

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Two months ago, while reading a book centered on generosity, Truckee resident Karen Sampson had an epiphany.

"It just really stirred me," Sampson said of the book "More Or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity" by Jeff Shinabarger. "In the book, there was a guy in Atlanta that did a bike project, and I was like, oh, we have four bikes … this would be really cool to give everybody in the whole community a bike that's in need."

Setting on a charitable path, Sampson pooled together partners in the community and put the wheels in motion for a bike donation venture: the Pedal Project.

Two months later, the nonprofit has restored and distributed roughly 70 bikes to various locations in and around Truckee, including Truckee Elementary School, Truckee Family Resource Center, Sierra High School, Grass Valley Foster Care System, Boys and Girls Club of Truckee and the homeless community.

“It’s just being generous with what we have. We all have so much to be thankful for, so much to give, and I just want to be able to give people an opportunity to get exercise.”Karen Sampson

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Associated with Tahoe Forest Church, the Pedal Project collects bicycles in any condition and — with the help of a pack of volunteers — refurbishes and distributes the bikes to people, of any age, who are in need of a bike.

"To me, it's just that people need transportation," Sampson said in a mid-May interview. "They're riding their little kids bike to go to work — what's wrong with that picture?

"It's just being generous with what we have. We all have so much to be thankful for, so much to give, and I just want to be able to give people an opportunity to get exercise."

Since starting the nonprofit in early April, Sampson has seen donations roll in like clockwork from Truckee and Reno.

Truckee Police Department has made sure that each bike received by the Pedal Project is paired with a helmet as its donated more than 150 brand new helmets.

"By providing helmets to each person receiving a bike, the police department is trying to reduce the chances of injury," Sgt. Russ Walsh said in a Truckee PD statement. "We are proud to support this project to give bikes and equipment to those who otherwise might not be able to afford them."

And there's been plenty more help from the community. Doug Wright and Julie Bedford, along with the crew at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Truckee, have donated a lock for every bike given away. Mike and Tara Vaughn have loaned the project their truck for deliveries. Chris Atkins of the Bike Project in Reno has donated bikes and parts to the cause.

Not to mention, volunteers donating their time repairing, cleaning and restoring recycled bikes has been vital to the nonprofit's ability to promptly give away its donated bikes.

Sampson said many seasoned bike riders and mechanics in the community have been especially generous with their time.

"Gary Morgan, Bob Smith, Pat Seehuter, Tom McElroy, Dr. Peter Taylor and many others have spent hours making sure each bike received by the project is repaired, clean, and safe to ride before it goes out into the community," said Sampson, adding that any purchases needed for a bike, such as a seat or brakes, are willingly made by the volunteers themselves. "Our idea is not to hold on to them but to get them fixed up and deliver them as soon as we get that list of people (who need bikes)."

Heading into her venture, Sampson said she had an initial goal of providing 25 bikes to the community. When that goal was quickly eclipsed, Sampson recalibrated the Pedal Project's aim to 125 — a target, just two months in, the project's more than halfway to reaching.

"It's crazy how people have just stepped up to the plate," Sampson said. "To see you're helping someone no matter what they're issue is, it's a blessing. It's been an amazing journey."

The Pedal Project, Sampson said, has been so successful that they are in the process of contacting schools and agencies in Kings Beach to extend their reach to North Lake Tahoe.

How to get involved?

If you’d like to join the Pedal Project effort, call 530-550-1516 or email mrcks04@yahoo.com. Or simply drop any used, unneeded bike at 10315 Hirschdale Road in Truckee.