Thousands of people in Tampa live on the streets, Tens of thousands lack access to reliable transportation. Residents in the University Area were surveyed by the University Area Community Development Center in 2017 about their top challenges to employment and education. Transportation was the primary obstacle. This issue, we have found, underlies many of the more immediate and concrete needs encountered among the poor throughout Tampa. Needs such as food, clothing, shelter, etc. stem from deeper issues like lack of ownership and a lack of access. The Earn-A-Bike program provides bicycle ownership to people who are affected by the inadequate and unreliable bus system of Tampa. In 2017, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority eliminated 20% of the county’s bus routes. We recognize that it has become exceedingly difficult to live and work safely in Tampa without privately owned transportation. Lack of transportation is a formidable barrier to gainful employment. Automobile ownership is financially difficult and often completely inaccessible to impoverished or homeless community members. Bicycle ownership is a tool that serves as a bridge to independence, employment, community-involvement and physical health for those who do not have the option to own a vehicle. By addressing the deeper issue folks are able to meet many of their own, more basic needs. The Well began working to address this issue by opening a bike co-op where folks who needed transportation could come and build their own bike for free. This co-op, which we affectionately called the ReCycle Bin, was in a shipping container behind a daytime drop in center for the homeless that we ran for three years. We did well over 1,000 bikes in that time.
Along the way people wanted to buy bikes and we realized there is a real need and a real opportunity in the market. There is a gap between the pawn shops (affordable) and the new bike shops (reliable). For Tampa residents, who want and need affordable, reliable transportation,
WellBuilt bikes is a non-profit bike shop that sells refurbished bikes at affordable prices and invests the sales revenue into our Earn-A-Bike program so those with little to no money can access and own a bike of their own. In so doing, we can make sure everyone in Tampa, regardless of income, is able to own their own bike and have the benefits of access, exercise, community, and everything else that comes from cycling. With sales revenue as well as donor support, this non-profit bike shop has dual revenue streams that will become an economic engine to expand our charitable services, create jobs, as well as fund strategic growth as we scale. The model works and we intent to perfect it as there are cities all over this country that have the same overlooked workforce, as well as a multitude of bikes that are otherwise destined for a landfill. With the conviction that it is only waste if you waste it, we are convinced that if these assets are properly valued and leveraged, we can create a more WellBuilt World.
WellBuilt Bikes is more than a vehicle to get from point A to point B,
WellBuilt Bikes is a vehicle of social mobility and community transformation.