Step into the Amsterdam Brewery these days and you’ll find more than beer on the storage racks. The brewery at 45 Esandar Drive is sharing some of its 65,000 sq. ft. site with registered charity Bikes Without Borders. Conceived by social entrepreneur Mike Brcic, Bikes Without Borders seeks to empower marginalized people with greater mobility through bicycles.
I toured the facilities with volunteer coordinator Greg Andre-Barrett, which is chock-a-block with donated bikes in various states of repair. One raft of refurbished bikes is destined for Africa via World Vision, but the majority of bikes they distribute are to newcomers, refugees and low-income Canadians in the Toronto area. For many people, a bike is the cheapest way to get around, whether it is to explore their new city or to get to work or school. Andre-Barrett says the cost of transit is high in the GTA, but a bike makes getting around free, preserving whatever income or savings people have for food and shelter. The organization normally gets about 300 bikes per year into people’s hands, but this year, with Amsterdam Brewery’s amazing support, they are upping their game.
“Our Great Bike Recycle program’s stretch goal is to get 1,000 refurbished bikes per year to people who need them. To make this happen, we need more volunteers to help us transform donated bikes into bikes that are ready to ride,” explains Andre-Barrett. All are welcome to volunteer and will receive training on how to fix bikes and on basic bike mechanics. For young people, this can be a gateway to getting a job in a bike shop, or a means of earning community service hours for school.
Amsterdam Brewery has long been associated with bikes, with brews featuring bikes on the label and names such as “3 Speed,” “Big Wheel,” and “Cruiser.” Supporting Bikes Without Borders by providing space and funding a part-time bike mechanic seems like the perfect way for the company to give back.
How can Leasiders help?
Become a volunteer bike mechanic, volunteer to pick up or deliver bikes and/or make a bike or financial donation. Visit https://bikeswithoutborders.org to learn more.