Something special is happening in Boise, Idaho. A group of dedicated volunteers and staffers have been building a community in which everyone can experience the freedom and the countless opportunities a bicycle can create. We spoke with Event & Outreach Manager Mindy Hoskins about the many initiatives the nonprofit Boise Bicycle Project has undertaken to promote the personal, social, and environmental benefits of cycling.
At Stan's, we believe real support means more than just standing behind our products. It means supporting the people who use those products, and the trails and causes that matter to them. Each time a customer registers a Stan's wheelset to receive warranty and crash replacement coverage, we donate $10 to that customer's choice of cycling-related cause, advocacy, or trail maintenance group. The Boise Bicycle Project is one of many organizations benefiting from our Stan’s Connections Program.
Stan’s No Tubes: What is the Boise Bicycle Project?
Mindy Hoskins: We are a forward-facing bicycle shop, and we also run many programs. We’re nonprofit with a wonderful community.
SNT: How do you get bikes, and what do you do with them?
MH: We receive all bikes via donation. They go into a few different categories. Some are refurbished and sold on our shop floor. Others become project bikes, which means people can use our bike stands and tools to get a bike for under $100. Our bikes can also get fixed by staff or volunteers and donated back into the community. Finally, we have bikes available for a low price point so people experiencing financial hardship can have access to a bike.
SNT: How and when did the Boise Bicycle Project get started?
MH: Our Executive Director Jimmy Hallyburton was a founder in 2007. There was also a cofounder who is no longer with us. Boise Bicycle Project started in a homeless shelter. There was no running water; there were just bins of parts. It’s grown into us owning our own building. In fact, we just acquired a warehouse space. Now, we donate over 1,000 bikes per year.
SNT: Generally speaking, how would you describe the Boise Bicycle Project’s goals?
MH: We are a community-focused nonprofit that promotes the personal, social, and environmental benefits of bicycling. We function as a bicycle recycling center and educational workspace in a diverse and non-threatening atmosphere. Through education, access to refurbished bicycles, and advocacy, we strive to build a stronger bicycling community.
We believe that Boise has the potential to be the bicycling capital of America, a place where everyone can experience the freedom and the countless opportunities a bicycle can create.
SNT: It seems like you have a lot of ongoing programs happening. Will you please tell us more about them?
MH: Yes. Our Youth Mobile Repair project is amazing and runs from March to October once per week on Wednesdays. We go to communities and elementary schools and participate in youth programming in places like low income apartment complexes. We get and repair the bikes for free. The program is mostly volunteer-run. We have six to seven volunteers and one or two staff members helping each week.
Our Adult & Teen Emergency Bike Program gives bikes to people whose only mode of transportation is a bicycle. We often get referrals for the program from within the community, and we try to get them a bike for free.
With our Voucher Program, we work with other nonprofits or state funded programs to give vouchers that people can use to shop for bikes.
SNT: What about seasonal or holiday programs?
MH: Every December, we use community partners like teachers and community centers to get kids under 11 referred to us for our holiday kids’ bike giveaway.
It’s a little crazy, but every kid draws us a picture of their dream bike. Donors can then purchase bikes we have on hand that are like it or donate one that is like it. Some kids are more specific than others about what they want. We do our best to match the kids with bikes based on bike color preferences, style, and the kids’ size and age. We put on all the bells and whistles they request like baskets, etc.
On the day we give out the bikes, our neighborhood turns into a drive through of joy. We donate 500 bikes in one day! If it’s a kid’s first bike, we also give them a helmet and fit them in it, give them a lock, and even help teach them how to ride. We close down a street and parking lot and partner with other partners to send them home with blankets, food, and other items they may need.
SNT: Besides participating in Stan’s Connections Program, what can people do to help support the Boise Bicycle Project?
MH: Donations are huge. They help with our day-to-day programming and expenses. It can be as simple as used rags all the way up to large sums of money. We are a 16-person organization, so we can only reach so far.
Volunteering is also huge. That’s how we do everything we do.
SNT: Tell us more about the role your volunteers play.
MH: We are reliant on our volunteers. We had 713 individual volunteers last year contributing 6,451 volunteer hours.
SNT: Anything you’d like to add?
MH: I’d like to say a huge thank you to Stan’s for all the support you’ve already given us. The sealant donations you send us get put into kids’ tubes to seal goathead punctures. I don’t know if you’re familiar with goatheads, but they’re such a big issue out here that we have a goathead pulling event and festival in the summer called the Boise Goathead Fest. Last year, we pulled 14,000 pounds of the invasive puncture vine or goathead along our roads and trails!
In addition to the above mentioned initiatives, Boise Bicycle Project also works with Village Bike Project to ship out hundreds of bikes parts to Africa.
Interested in helping out the Boise Bicycle Project? It’s easy to make a donation of cash, bikes or parts.
Learn more about Stan’s Connection Program, and suggest a charity or trail support group you’d like us to add to it.