Mattapoisett group gives ‘bikes for all’

Jun 19, 2021

MATTAPOISETT -- Some new wheels may be cruising around town, after the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bicycle and Recreational Path and Mattapoisett Recreation began distributing bikes through their “Bikes for All” program on June 19.

Jane Finnerty, Liz DiCarlo and Bill Emmons are leading an effort to gather unwanted bikes and redistribute them to the community.

Since calling for unwanted bikes in the winter, the group has received 94 bikes from the community.

Many of them were in good enough condition to be given away with little work -- but for those which needed a little more care, Emmons was on the job.

He took parts from bikes that couldn’t be salvaged and pieced together rides for Mattapoisett kids, given out alongside helmets and a safety lesson.

“Bill, I think you’ve put in probably hundreds of hours,” DiCarlo said.

“I wouldn’t say hundreds,” Emmons replied.

The bikes are being stored at the Friends Meetinghouse in Mattapoisett, where they nearly fill up a storage space behind the meetinghouse.

“We had literally a bike shop in there,” Finnerty said.

For a while, the bikes were stored at the town beach by Finnerty, who works with Mattapoisett Recreation. They were moved after the bike collection was too large -- and when not many places were willing to take in extra people or items, the Quakers were there to help.

“The Quakers have always been generous in opening doors to people who share their philosophy,” DiCarlo said. “And they really like our project.”

The group have been working on collecting and repairing the bikes since February, and are now beginning distribution. The original intent was to have the bikes distributed by the planned spring opening of the bike path, but the project has been delayed, with a planned opening in the fall.

Instead, the group sent out the first wave of bikes to Mattapoisett kids so they could have some fresh wheels for the summer.

One step-through bike, constructed by Emmons, went to an older Mattapoisett man who could no longer lift his leg over his old bike’s frame.

Bike repairs, helmets and bells that are provided with each bike were funded through donations and funds from the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bicycle and Recreational Path.

Help came from other bike collectives, too. The South Coast Bikeway Alliance helped provide helmets when the friends’ didn’t come in in time, and Mass Bike helped provide safety pamphlets for families receiving the bikes.

“It’s really a fabulous community,” Finnerty said.

The first wave of bikes were given to children and families on June 19, but more waves are coming as more bikes are repaired and ready to ride. The group has 35 bikes that are ready to be distributed at-will with dozens more in the meetinghouse.

“Once those are gone, we’ll reach out to the community again,” Finnerty said, for more bikes.

DiCarlo said she hopes to extend the program through potential grants from the Greater New Bedford Allies for Health and Wellness. She hopes to be able to create a program to “train the trainers” -- and create a group capable of giving bike safety lessons to new riders (and maybe help with repairs, too).

“It’s just something we’ll have to see if it grows organically,” DiCarlo said.

For the time being, Mattapoisett can look forward to a heightened population of residents able to enjoy the bike path.