Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Merced, CA maintains a Bicycle Ministry in which I participate as a builder. The program has two major functions.
First, it collects donated or discarded bikes and refurbishes them to give away free to children and adults who might not otherwise be able to afford a bicycle.
Second, it collects donated and discarded bicycles, strips them for their essential parts and pieces (steering heads, power brackets, sprockets etc.) and then uses these parts to build custom, one of a kind adaptive bikes and trikes for special needs students and adults. You can take a closer look at some of the adaptive bikes the program has built, and a step-by-step description of how we built them, by selecting any of the photos at the bottom of the page.
The Bicycle Ministry works directly with the Merced County School District and the teachers in its special needs programs to identify students, assess their individual needs and make referrals to the program for children in need.
Each bike is built to fit the particular needs of the student which usually means a custom designed, hand fabricated frame. Nealy all of the essential components such as pedals, wheels, sprockets, brakes, power brackets and steering heads come from the junked and discarded bikes the program regularly collects. We also build our own adaptive seats and seat backs and sew our own upholstery. In addition we make out own safety harnesses. The items we do have to purchase are paid for through the generous funding provided by Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran and by the Merced Sunrise Rotary Club. We also recieve support from Waste Management Corp which allows us to set up a special collection site for bicycles during their Community Cleanup Days.
All of the program’s adaptive bikes are provided free to student recipients. The program’s only requirement is that if/when the student outgrows the bike, that they return it to the program so that it might be used by another worthy recipient.
Although students are the program’s primary focus, bikes are also designed and built for adults with special needs. When they are able to afford it, adults are asked to help pay for the cost of materials necessary to complete the bike. The program also occasionally refurbishes discarded mobility vehicles (scooters and wheelchairs) and provides them free of charge to recipients.
SOV highly encourages churches and civic organizations to explore the possibility of creating an Adaptive Bicycle Program in their own community and will gladly provide more detailed information upon request.
Here are some of the bikes we’ve built.
Click to view construction details for any of these adaptive bikes.