Five local Trek Bicycle locations next month will accept donations of used bikes that will be refurbished and given to children from at-risk communities, it was announced Monday.

In collaboration with the San Diego chapter of Free Bikes 4 Kidz, the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition will host the donation drive for gently used bikes, with the goal of collecting over 1,000.

The Trek Bicycle locations will accept donations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 8. Volunteers will transport the bikes to Free Bikes 4 Kidz for repairs, and then donate them to young people in the county, with help from partner organizations, including Outdoor Outreach and the Kiwanis Club of Southeastern San Diego.

“Every child, every smile is a story,” said Terry Esau, founder of Free Bikes 4 Kidz. “We all remember our first bike, but millions of kids will never have that memory. We are trying to change that.”

The five Trek Bicycle locations that will accept used bicycles are:

-Kearny Mesa: 4240 Kearny Mesa Road, Suite 108, San Diego;

-La Mesa: 8495 Fletcher Pkwy., La Mesa;

-North County: 1617 Capalina Road, Unit B, San Marcos;

-Solana Beach: 124 N. Rios Ave., Solana Beach; and

-South Bay: 3901 Bonita Road, Bonita.

“I have seen thousands of smiles on kids, and rivers of tears in their parents’ eyes when a kid picks out their own, very first bike,” Esau said. “I never tire of that story. It only costs us $25 to put a deserving child on a bike and give them a new helmet. That is like four Starbucks coffees.”

According to the Bicycle Coalition, millions of children across the United States, including from low-income or communities of color, lack safe opportunities to exercise outdoors. That lack of physical activity is associated with a higher risk of childhood obesity or developing Type 2 diabetes. At the same time, almost 15 million bicycles are discarded by Americans every year, which further clutters up landfills.

“Free Bikes 4 Kidz aims to address both issues by repairing and restoring unwanted bikes and giving them to local youth, affording them the joy and freedom of two wheels,” according to the Bicycle Coalition.

A national organization, Free Bikes 4 Kidz has given away over 100,000 bicycles since its inception in 2008. The San Diego chapter of Free Bikes 4 Kidz started in September.

“Free Bikes 4 Kidz’ impact has been felt by thousands of children across the country,” said Sylvie Froncek, programs director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. “Free Bikes 4 Kidz’ mission aligns with our own… That’s why we’re proud to be a supporting partner this year.”

San Diego Bike Coalition advocates for and protects the bicycle riders’ rights and promotes bicycling “as a mainstream, safe and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation.”

–City News Service