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Bikes for all: Communicycle provides bicycles for those who need them

Byline: Dani Brown, Director of Strategic Communication at RiverWise 

Photo credit: Erin Ninehouser for RiverWise 


If you see a kid riding a bicycle in most Beaver County neighborhoods, there’s a good chance Communicycle provided that bike. The nonprofit based in Beaver County — with a new, central facility in Monaca — is best known for delivering bikes to those who need them. And that usually means kids.


But Lee Montanari, executive director of 

Communicycle, didn’t start his nonprofit just 

because he liked fixing up used bikes — 

though he certainly does enjoy the process. 

Lee is in the relationship-building industry, 

and bikes just happen to be the vehicle to do 

that. 

“It’s grown into all kinds of ways we can use 

bikes to create community,” Lee said. “This is 

just an easy place to come and connect right away.” 


Bikes have the opportunity to transform someone’s life, and usually, more than one person’s.


At Communicycle, there are many touchpoints of a bicycle. The vast majority of the bikes at Communcycle are donated, meaning once they arrive at one of the organization's bike 

repair locations throughout the region, they’ve already had years of memories etched into the handlebars, pedals, and tires.


The story of a little girl learning to ride a pink Barbie bike can be replayed time and time again as a child outgrows their bike and donates it to Communicycle to be cleaned up and delivered to another young girl awaiting a chance to learn to ride. 


While Communicycle may appear to give bikes to people who may be struggling financially, that’s only one demographic who arrives at Communicycle donation days. In fact, upon arriving at Neighborhood North: Museum of Play in Beaver Falls in October 2023, people of all backgrounds stood in line for a bicycle.


Some parents waited to choose a bike out on their child’s behalf, excited to surprise them when they got home. 


“His favorite colors are green, blue, and yellow,” one dad told a Communicycle volunteer as they walked around the parking lot of Neighborhood North in search of the perfect bike for his son. 

Grandparents stood in line with their grandchildren, eager to watch their grandbabies pick out a bicycle for the first time. 


One little girl sat on a purple bike at the Neighborhood North event. As she pushed her feet from the ground and sat them on the pedals, she lost her balance and nearly fell over. 


“It’s OK,” her grandmother assured her, kindly. “Everybody falls off their bike.” 


For some parents, they were there because purchasing three bicycles from a big-box store for their three children just wasn’t in the budget. 


Eva Ralph of Beaver Falls brought her 

three children, Kamear, 10, Jamear, 7, 

and Deondre, 7, to get a bike. 


“They asked me for bikes all summer 

time,” Eva said, “so I said, ‘all right, 

they can go down the street and get a 

free bike.’” 


Each of her children picked out their 

own bike and rode it throughout the parking lot. Kamear laughed as she wobbled on her pink and purple bike. Slowly, as she gathered more confidence, she made it farther across the parking lot. “I did it!” she said with a giggle. 


Deondre grinned as he practiced balancing on his little red bike. “Mom, look!” he said. 

“It just takes practice,” he assured himself. “I need some training wheels.”


His brother Jamear picked out a red Avengers bike. 


“It looks really cool,” he said with a smile. “I’m hoping to ride up and down the street and go 

to a lot of stores with the bike.” 


For Royal, 9, of Beaver Falls, he received a bike from Communicycle at a previous event. 

When he saw the Communicycle truck pull up at Neighborhood North, he knew he could talk 

his bike over for a tune-up. 


“The inner tube,” he told the volunteers, was flat. 


Royal didn’t just sit on the sidewalk and let 

the volunteers fix his black Mongoose. He 

was active in the process, learning how to 

change the inner tube himself. He used a 

wrench to take off the tire, find the hole in the tire’s inner tube, and pump up a new one and install it back on his bike. 


“Have you ever heard of the phrase 'righty-tighty, lefty-loosey’?” a volunteer asked Royal. 


He nodded in response as he gripped the wrench. 


“OK, so then which way do you want to tighten that up?” the volunteer asked. 

“This way?” Royal asked as he moved the wrench.

“That’s right,” the volunteer said. “Good job, man!” 


And as Royal peeked through his turquoise glasses and tightened the bike’s axle on his own, he was beaming with pride, not just because he could ride his bike again, but because he fixed it himself. 


That’s what Communicycle is all about. The nonprofit doesn’t just provide a service to those who need one; it does so much more than that.


Through giving out bikes and fixing them up, there’s intergenerational laughing and talking and relationship building. Communicycle is teaching skills and empowering people to take pride in what they own. 


From the youngest kids who require training wheels to adults who need a bike to get to and from work to amateur cyclists looking for an inexpensive bike to benefit their health and environment, gently-used bikes have wide ranging impacts for a community. 


And Communicycle is there to provide bikes for anyone who needs one.

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