BIG WHEELS

Free bike program helps Peru's neediest

By: Anthony Lombardi 

Date:05/11/2017 

If it wasn't for her bicycle, Dusty Bingle wouldn’t have her own means of getting around Peru.

Luckily, she was able to find her ride, a tan beach cruiser, through Life Cycle – an effort initiated by the System of Care Governance Coalition that attempts to provide
community members with free and reliable transportation.

Bingle’s bike – “Pearl” – has meant the world to her.

“I don’t have to depend on somebody to go to appointments or just to even go some place,” Bingle said. “I don’t have to disrupt nobody’s life from their daily
activities. I’m able to make appointments … We need more programs like these.”

Life Cycles, which was previously called the Miami County Transportation Effort, is a collaboration between the SOCGC, the Peru Police Department, Breakaway Bikes
and Main Street United Methodist Church.

Since the program was established on Feb. 16, 22 of the 25 bikes that PPD donated have been given away, said Antonia Sawyer, the local systems coordinator for
the SOCGC.

With their fleet depleted, Sawyer said it’s time for Life Cycle’s first bike drive, which will take place Friday, May 19, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Breakaway Bike and
Fitness Shop, located at 8 S. Wabash St.

Anyone who is willing to donate an adult sized bicycle that is in either good or repairable condition is invited to roll on by.

“If they’re looking to make an impact on a community members life, a positive impact, then we absolutely would love to receive their donation,” Sawyer said. “We
want to make sure the bikes we receive can be repaired at a decent cost … If it’s been welded in anyway, we can’t accept it – we make sure all our bikes are up to
code.”

Breakaway Bike Owner Zac See mends the bicycles in need of repair before they are sent to Main Street United Methodist, located at  81 W. Main St., where they are
available for the public every Thursday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Sawyer said if someone can’t make it during that time, they can contact Pastor Lauren Hall at 765-472-3323 to set up an appointment.

Bingle, 40, received her bike in late February, after she overheard people talking about the program at a food drive.

A lengthy and expensive battle with Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the digestive system, last year had forced Bingle to sell her car. She said the vehicle needed
repairs, and with bills to pay and her daughter’s 16th birthday right around the corner she needed the extra money.

When she heard about Life Cycles, she thought she’d give it a try.

“I wasn't even there five minutes,” Bingle said. “I love it.”

Bingle said she rides “Pearl” everyday, whether it’s to work, various appointments or just to get outside.

“It’s a healthy option,” she said. “I road from one end of town to the other end of town three times in one day … I was cooped up for months due to my Chron’s … it
feels so good to get out.”

The only requirements to receive a free bike from Life Cycle is to be at least 16 years old and to have a referral from a community member who isn't family or friend.
Sawyer said examples of appropriate referrals can come from people such as a doctor, a teacher or counselor, a probation officer or a pastor.

When people stop by Main Street United Methodist to select their new ride, they just need to bring a valid state ID or driver’s license. People are also only eligible to
receive one free bike so it’s important to use the free lock that comes with the gift to make sure the bicycle doesn't get away.

Sawyer said while she doesn’t know what to expect from the first bike drive next Friday any donation will help.

“Even if we get one (bike), it’s a success,” she said. “But we’re hoping to get as many as we can … we’ll see what people are willing to give.”

Bingle said several people have tried to purchase her bike from her. Each one has been politely declined.

“Even if I was in a situation where I didn’t need my bike for everyday transportation, I would never sell it,” she said. “I would probably give it back to the program if
I ever wanted to part with it to make sure that somebody else was able to benefit from it.”