New coalition promotes bicycles for homeless

A new community coalition said it has set up Wheel Solutions, a project to help local people have basic transportation available to them.

For those people, bicycles are their cars, giving them the ability to get to job interviews, medical appointments and social services, the coalition said in a news release.

Beginning in mid-July, homeless people can come to the D Street Shelter every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for free bicycle repair. Volunteers, who are homeless themselves, will be on hand to help train other homeless people in how to repair broken bicycles, provide replacement parts and, in some cases, have replacement bikes for those whose bikes cannot be repaired.

This project will offer parts, tools and expertise at no charge.

Wheel Solutions is the first of several projects that the new coalition has identified as projects that could make a real and measurable impact on the local homeless population. "We envision this coalition to be active, positive and committed to the project goals," said Brenda Callahan-Johnson, executive director of Merced County Community Action Agency.

An initial grant of $20,000 from the community action agency will provide seed money to get the project off the ground. For more information on how to help, call (209) 382-6774; e-mail matt@recyclemerced.com; call the D Street Shelter (209) 725-8188; or contact Rhonda Lowe by e-mail at rlowe@mercedcaa.org, or call (209) 723-4565 ext. 1140.