June 24, 2018 | ° F

Community to launch affordable bicycle exchange for residents

The Puerto Rican Action Board is working with the New Brunswick community and University students to launch the New Brunswick Bike Exchange.

Volunteers at the bike exchange will fix up used bikes collected from donations and sell them at affordable prices, said Brian Stromberg, a volunteer coordinator for the New Brunswick Bike Exchange.

Stromberg, a graduate student in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said the New Brunswick community could greatly benefit from the project once it takes off.

“We will be getting more bikes to people that need them,” said Stromberg, founding member of Walk Bloustein Bike Bloustein. “Our target community for this [is] low-income households, [which] rely more on bikes to get around. The idea is to make bikes more affordable for those that use them most.”

Children’s bikes will be sold for $10 to $20 and adult bikes will range from $30 to $40, although prices may vary, said Sonia Szczesna, a member of the University’s cycling team involved with the project.

The bike exchange hopes to get most bike donations from bike drives, Stromberg said.

“We work with people to organize drives at their work, providing flyers and other literature to pass around, and then we are on hand to pick up the bikes and take them to the exchange,” he said.

Sororities, fraternities and other University organizations are encouraged to hold their own bike drives, said Szczesna, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

Individuals are welcome to drop off any old and unused bikes at the exchange, she said.

But the exchange is in need of volunteers willing to work on the bikes, Stromberg said.

“Getting volunteers is definitely more difficult than getting bikes,” he said. “We can teach you to do anything you don’t already know how to do, and you can learn on the job.”

The exchange seeks volunteers to work at least three hours each month, with tentative shifts starting Thursday evenings and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Stromberg said.

Proceeds from the exchange go toward PRAB, one of the largest and oldest community services organizations in New Jersey, Stromberg said.

Bike exchanges in other cities have proven successful, Stromberg said. Similar operations in Trenton and Newark have raised more than $280,000 for the Boys and Girls Club by selling more than 7,000 bikes.

“I can’t predict exactly how many bikes we will sell in New Brunswick or how much money we will raise, but I’m [guessing] that we can do something similar for PRAB,” he said.

Sabrina Lauredent, a School of Arts and Science junior, said she would buy a bike from the exchange because it would allow her to exercise and help the environment.

“If enough students bought bikes, it could reduce the number of students on the buses,” she said.

Szczesna said she prefers biking around campus instead of riding on the University’s buses.

“Students always complain about the buses, but it’s totally bike-able to ride to each campus,” she said.

Hammad Sadiq, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said although he would not buy a bike or bring one to campus, he sees the benefits of biking versus riding the buses.

“If you had a bike on campus, you wouldn’t have to wait for the weekend buses,” he said. “Also, if you feel lazy and don’t want to walk, you could just ride your bike to class or wherever. Imagine how much attention you’d get by riding up to parties.”

The New Brunswick Bike Exchange will be located at PRAB’s headquarters at 90 Jersey Ave. in downtown New Brunswick.

An opening date for the exchange has not yet been set, as volunteers are still renovating a home for it within PRAB’s warehouse, Stromberg said. Students should expect it to open by the end of the year.

By Alex Meier

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