Community Bikes is a reuse and repair training program operated by LITE Initiatives. Founded in 2003, the program was initially a collaboration of LITE and The Middle Way, a job training center for developmentally disabled adults which closed in 2006. The shop, now operated solely by LITE, moved to unincorporated west Santa Rosa in December 2005. Now open 4 days a week, it is one of a handful of bicycle shops serving western Santa Rosa and West Sonoma County.
The majority of the bikes are donated by individuals, though many are picked up from agencies and businesses such as the City of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Sheriff, Sonoma County Transit and local bike shops. For example, the Santa Rosa REI bike shop donated 20 recalled BMX bikes with their frames cut in half. The bikes were disassembled and the parts inventoried by young volunteers.
After being carefully tested and refurbished, bikes are sold or donated to the needy depending on the preferences of the donor. All of the work to date has been funded by sales, volunteer work and donations of money and reusables, plus small grants from the Sonoma County Community Foundation, REI, Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund, Whole Foods Market Sebastopol, Bread For the Journey – Sebastopol and a small project grant from the Sonoma County Office of Education. Currently seeking expansion funding, LITE has a number of grant applications in development.
Thousands of people visit the shop and attend Community Bikes events. In 2008, an average of 50 bikes per month are processed one way or another. Catholic Charities, Interlink Self Help Center, The Middle Way, Green Acres Boys Home, New Ways To Work and Analy High School’s Student Commute Program have all benefited, and training classes are being planned or have been conducted for Analy High School, Green Acres and Catholic Charities’ homeless shelter. Click Links to see our list of Benefactors, Participating Agencies, Collaborating Groups and Beneficiaries.