The goal of Pedal Power is to put a bicycle in the yard of every person transitioning out of homelessness. Through an innovative community partnership in Chattanooga, TN, Pedal Power empowers people with bicycles, a low-cost form of transportation that promotes health, independence, and a sense of ownership.
The bicycle is a beautiful and simple mode of transportation. There is likely one in your backyard or your garage, gathering dust. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, people are donating bikes for repair and refurbishment so that people who are transitioning out of homelessness can pedal on their own power to work. A green mode of transportation is also helping to sustain employment, health, and housing.
In partnership with Outdoor Chattanooga and funding from Art for Change, the Chattanooga Community Kitchen is launching a program called Pedal Power. The Chattanooga Community Kitchen is an independent social services agency that works to reduce poverty and despair among people who are homeless in Chattanooga. Their mission is to restore dignity and self-reliance to the people they serve. The Chattanooga Community Kitchen provides shelter services, transitional housing services, case management, domestic violence assistance for women and children, meals, job training and employment, clothing, health care, and medical respite care.
Pedal Power is a small town way of solving a common sense problem. The objective is to make sure that everyone in transition from homelessness will have access to a low-cost and sustainable method of transportation.
“People love the idea,” says Jens Christensen, Director of Marking at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, “and we will be giving out bicycles very soon.” All bicycles have been donated by the community and restored so that they are ready for the road. The organization has collected over 100 bicycles and twenty are ready to be given away.
Chattanooga is a bike friendly city. A bicycle provides a simple and sustainable solution for people who cannot afford a car, or have no license. It is a healthy way to get around town and a viable option for transportation to work.
A local bike mechanic from Outdoor Chattanooga is restoring the donated bikes. The group hopes to extend Pedal Power to encourage people to learn how to fix their own bikes. They hope that being able to fix one’s own bike under the guidance of a mechanic will establish a sense of ownership.
Included alongside the bike is a street safety class, a helmet, a lock and a bell or a horn for the bike. In order to receive a bike, recipients will be asked to participate in the street safety class.
Funding for this project came from private donations and seed money from Art of Change. Art of Change was formed to transform old parking meters into works of art when digital meters replaced them. Local businesses sponsor the meters and citizens are encouraged to place spare change in the meters. All money collected goes to fund programs like Pedal Power. By promoting mobility and sustainability, Pedal Power is empowering people to develop independence.
Visit Homeless Chattanooga to learn more.
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