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Program Matches Bicycles To Essential Workers Who Need Them In New York


If you're looking for ways that you can help out these days, there's plenty of need. Food pantries need non-perishable food. Hospitals need masks. And lots of people, it turns out, need wheels.


Yeah. That is the idea behind a new program from the New York City-based advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

SHAPIRO: The group's art director remembered he had an old bike with some life left in it.

DANNY HARRIS: He put it up on social media and immediately found somebody who needed it.

SHAPIRO: That's the group's executive director, Danny Harris.

HARRIS: And we realized that there are thousands of cyclists in New York who may have an extra bike that could be in the hands now of a frontline worker.

SHAPIRO: So they launched Bike Match.

HARRIS: You can think of it as a bike matchmaking service. If you have a bike, you put in some basic details, and we'll work to connect you. So if it's a commuter bike versus a road bike, if you're tall or short, based on your neighborhood, we'll help to connect you to somebody who needs the bike.

KELLY: The goal is to help the people who can't stay home during the pandemic get safely to work.

HARRIS: Delivery cyclists are feeding our city. Frontline workers are out, you know, doing everything from picking up the garbage to making our buses and trains run. And obviously, our health care workers are on the frontline of the crisis. A bike match is a very small way of taking an asset that you have and giving it to somebody who needs it.

SHAPIRO: Danny Harris says they've matched 42 people with bikes so far, and many more are in the works. Maria Salazar was matched with a black specialized Sirrus.

KELLY: She is part of the Astoria Mutual Aid Network. She's using the bike to deliver supplies like personal protective equipment and medication to people who can't leave home.

SHAPIRO: She says all this generosity is inspiring.

MARIA SALAZAR: The fact that people just wanted to help no matter what - it just made me want to do more.

SHAPIRO: And Salazar says with car traffic way down, biking in New York City these days is actually quite nice.

(SOUNDBITE OF QUEEN SONG, "BICYCLE RACE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.