Bicycles for Humanity chapter starts on Coast

Christine Wood/Staff Writer / Staff writer
January 17, 2014 01:00 AM

A bike can mean transportation, a way to haul heavy loads and access to things like medical treatment for the poor in developing countries, which is why locals Bill and Lyn Charlton have set up a Bicycles for Humanity chapter on the Sunshine Coast.

Bill and Lyn Charlton of Garden Bay have started a Bicycles for Humanity chapter on the Sunshine Coast, and they're looking for more residents to get involved.

Bicycles for Humanity is a worldwide grassroots volunteer-run organization that believes a bicycle can change the life of a person in a developing country.

Groups collect enough usable bikes to fill a shipping container and then fundraise to send the container full of bikes to a country in need.

The bikes are distributed free of charge and the container itself becomes a bike repair shop on the other end, complete with some basic tools and supplies to keep the gifted bikes in working order.

Started in 2005 by a couple in Whistler, Bicycles for Humanity chapters throughout B.C. have shipped thousands of bikes to Africa.

There are now more than 50 chapters in six different countries, and the Sunshine Coast is the newest chapter to join the ranks.

The Charltons decided to start a chapter late last year, after searching for a way to help those less fortunate in other countries.

"In the past we've given money to various charities, but we've never been quite satisfied with the amount of money that's spent on administration to those charities and what actually gets to the people," Bill said. "Then we saw this one and we found out there's virtually no overhead associated with this, and anything that goes into it is money that goes directly into shipping these bicycles. They actually go to people on the other end that are well known people that help distribute those bikes and make sure they aren't just coming off the boat and being sold or something like that."

Now that the paperwork's done, the Garden Bay couple need to find more locals willing to help out, particularly with storing the donated bikes until there are enough to ship off Coast.

It takes about 500 bikes to fill a shipping container and it may take "six months to a year" to amass that many, Bill said, adding they also need volunteers willing to use their business or home as a collection point for the donated bicycles.

The local chapter is also looking for general volunteers willing to help fundraise the $7,000 to $10,000 needed to purchase a shipping container and later send it to Africa.

The Charltons encourage potential volunteers to contact them by email at or by phone at 604-740-6144.

Find out more at

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