London

Big Bike Giveaway goes virtual for Canada Day launch

The annual Big Bike Giveaway kicks off on July 1 and is expected to see up to 600 bicycles go to Londoners who need them. Registration starts Wednesday, with bikes being given out throughout the summer.

The 7th edition of the giveaway will see up to 600 bikes go to Londoners who need them

The 7th annual Big Bike Giveaway starts on July 1. (Big Bike Giveaway/Facebook)

The annual Big Bike Giveaway that sees donated bikes matched to riders who need them most kicks off on July 1.

The seventh edition of the giveaway will look a lot different than previous years where hundreds would gather on the day of the giveaway to get their bikes. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is going online, with bikes given out in smaller settings over the summer.

"It's open to all Londoners and there's not a lot of specific requirements," said Monica Hodgson, co-founder of the giveaway. "It's pretty open because the concept is; we believe everybody needs a little help, especially with everything we've gone through so far this year."

While the giveaway is based on a first-come, first-served basis, Hodgson said the priority is given to people who are facing social, health or economic challenges.

The Big Bike Giveaway got an earlier start this year as they gave away 100 bicycles to essential workers in London. They expect to give away up to 500 more bikes by the end of the year.

Donations still needed

Bicycles can be donated at any of London's four EnviroDepots. (Big Bike Giveaway/Facebook)

Getting bikes in the hands of Londoners who need them requires donations. This year, Hodgson said they are in need of smaller bikes.

"We're having a hard time finding bicycles to fit people that are just under five feet, adults that are under five feet," she said. "You've got a higher weight, but a lower height and you've got to have a safe bike for those people."

Bikes can be donated at any of the city's four EnviroDepots.

What keeps the Hodgsons going

Monica and Shayne Hodgson have run the Big Bike Giveaway for the last seven years. (Supplied by Monica Hodgson)

Being able to give away bikes is rewarding in itself for the couple, but Hodgson said the stories get better every year. This year, they're outfitting a family of 15 with bicycles.

"It's an incredible experience. All of these children, 13 children and a husband and wife, and they've never had bikes for their children," said Hodgson. "So, we're serving this entire family, and that's something new, and after seven years, we never thought we'd experience."

Hodgson and her husband Shayne started the Big Bike Giveaway seven years ago in their backyard. Since then, they've given away over 1,500 bikes and reused over 20,000 kilograms of metal, rubber and wire.

To register for a bike, visit bigbikegiveaway.ca. Registration is open for the month of July.

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