About 150 bicycles restored for less-fortunate children

Dozens of bikes were displayed during annual Burbank Bike Angels press conference, in front of City Hall in Burbank on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Bike Angels collects used bikes throughout the year and restores them to give away to needy children during Christmas.
(Raul Roa / Burbank Leader)

Dozens of shiny, restored bicycles repaired by the Burbank Bike Angels lined the steps in front of Burbank City Hall waiting to find new homes during a press conference Wednesday.

For the past nine years, the local bicycle advocacy group has repaired bicycles to nearly brand-new condition to be given to less-fortunate children in Burbank. This year, roughly 150 bikes were repaired.

Each bicycle, whether it was a Huffy, Mongoose or Schwinn, had new tires, handle bar grips and seats and was ready to be ridden by a boy or girl.

Elaine Pease, founder and director of the Bike Angels, said that, although the number of bicycles distributed was down compared to the 200 repaired last year, she is excited to see another batch of refurbished bicycles be given to those who could not otherwise afford to purchase a new bike. She attributed the spike in the number of bicycles last year to the economy bouncing back.

“It’s not just about somebody who cares and loves you and gives you a new bike,” Pease said. “It’s also about giving the child the freedom of mobility so that they can go out and visit their friends.”

The bicycles will be distributed to several local nonprofits — the Salvation Army Burbank Corps, the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, Family Service Agency and Penny Lane — which will give the bikes to children on Monday.

Salvation Army Burbank Corps Lt. Jeremy Baker said he remembers when he first received a bicycle. He was 7 years old, and the bike he had was themed in the original “Transformers” cartoon show.

“The training wheels had Optimus Prime’s face on [them], and I remember trying to look down and watch his face move while I was riding,” he said.

Baker said he recalls how happy he was riding his bike around his neighborhood and considers it to be one of the most exciting moments in his life, and he hopes that the children who receive bicycles restored by the Bike Angels will have the same experience.

“That’s part of why we do this,” he said. “We like seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces, and we like seeing the bikes being ridden around town.”

Twitter: @acocarpio