We’re partnering with Board member Stephen Braitsch and Sam Sadle of Safe Lanes to bring Bike Match to San Francisco and Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Bike Match was started in New York by Transportation Alternatives, and connects people who have bikes they’re no longer using with people who need a bike. This allows us to continue our work towards transportation justice, making sure everyone has access to affordable transportation while following the city’s shelter-in-place order.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bike Match?
Bike Match is a program that connects people who have bikes they’re no longer using with people who are in need of a bike. The first Bike Match program was started by Transportation Alternatives in New York, and the idea has since expanded across the globe.
How does Bike Match work?
- You have a bike you’d like to donate:
If you have a bike you’d like to give away (permanently) to someone who might be in need now due to feeling unsafe on public transportation or being seriously impacted by the reduction in service, you’d click on “I have a bike,” then follow the guidelines and fill in each part of the form, including adding a picture. Based on your description we will match your bike to a request we have received. At that time you and the recipient will be contacted and asked to arrange a public exchange of the bike.
- You need a bike:
If you’d like to request a bike, click on “I need a bike” then follow the guidelines and fill in each part of the form. It is important that you be honest about any special needs that might better match you to a bike. Once matched with a bike, you and the donor will be contacted and asked to arrange a public exchange of the bike.
Where do the bikes come from?
Bikes come from the homes of generous folks around the city who are ready to part with their bike to give someone in need the chance to make their own transportation choices. They may be new but they’ve probably been loved and used.
Who can request a bike?
Anyone, though essential workers will take priority as they make sacrifices to take care of the rest of us, whether that is a grocery store employee, nurse, doctor, or anyone else working in a front-line capacity right now.
Is this a loan or a permanent exchange?
This is permanent. When you are matched with someone and a bike is exchanged, there is no turning back.
I’ve been matched with someone/a bike. Where do we make the exchange?
Congratulations! We recommend both parties pick a neutral public place where you can both feel secure while maintaining officially-recommended six feet of distance from each other.
How do I prepare a donated bike for a sanitary hand-off, or how do I make sure the bike I receive is sanitary?
Program guidelines instruct donors to sanitize bikes prior to hand-off, by washing with soap and water, wiping it down with isopropyl alcohol (at least 70% solution), or using some other CDC-recommended disinfectant.
Bike recipients should feel free to bring along disinfectant wipes or some other cleaning agent to the hand-off, if they’d like extra assurance of safety.
I don’t live in your city/state, can I still request a bike?
While the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is unlikely to meet your needs if you live outside the Bay Area, there is a growing national network of Bike Match programs using the same platform. Check the link to see if an organization near you is participating. If you don’t see your area represented, try a Google search for “Bike Match [YOUR CITY]” — some organizations are using their own tools to operate similar programs.
What kind of bikes are you looking for?
Bikes in good, rideable condition that someone can hop on immediately after the exchange is made and get to work or make a necessary trip somewhere.
What is rideable condition?
If you’re uncertain if your bike is good to be ridden right now, you can do the ABC Quick Check to get a better sense of the condition. Here is a quick video from the League of American Bicyclists that explains how to do that.
How are matches made?
Matches are made firstly based on inventory which is supplied by the public. If we don’t get offered any donations, we have no bikes to match with recipients. When we have inventory we’ll first be looking for people working on the front lines during the shelter-in-place order. But we have to take into account each recipient’s height and needs (not preferences) outlined in the comment box provided. That is why it is important to be open and honest.
But for these reasons, the recipient matched with a bike may not be an essential worker.
How long do I have to wait to be matched with someone/a bike?
We can’t say for certain. We can’t guarantee that you will be matched with someone/a bike. It depends on inventory and needs. If a request is made but we have no bikes or a bike is donated but we don’t have any requests from someone that would be a good fit for that bike, we wait until we do have those things. Remember, we don’t have control over inventory.
I haven’t ridden a bike in a long time. How do I use my bike to get around safely?
We highly recommend attending our free virtual classes where we’ll go over everything you need to know before riding around San Francisco. You can find a list of those here.
You can also check out these videos from the League of American Bicyclists to learn more about some basic skills you’ll need to know like where you should ride, shifting gears, and signaling a turn or lane change. All of these concepts are explained in our classes.
I’m worried the bike I received might need some maintenance. Where can I get it inspected?
The following bike shops have noted that they are open for business, and recipients can have their bike inspected for free to find out if any maintenance is needed
BIKE IT FORWARD
Our Bike It Forward program is a model of a cooperative, community-driven collaboration. We reclaim unclaimed and abandoned bikes from the SFMTA, BART, the SFPD and other agencies, which are then repaired with the help of our volunteers at our Community Repair Nights every Wednesday. Neighborhood residents sign up with our partner organizations in advance to participate and receive a bike. They begin by completing a bike education class, followed by getting properly fitted to their new bicycle and leave with a new, affordable, healthy and fun way to get around town!