New Brunswick Bike Exchange provides inexpensive options

By Justin Lesko

The New Brunswick Bike Exchange opened for its second season, offering low-cost bicycles to customers at the beginning of March.

In the last year, the shop, located at the Puerto Rican Action Board’s New Brunswick Family Success Center at 90 Jersey Ave., brought in 250 to 300 bikes and sold almost 100,while giving away 200 free helmets, according to Program Director Leighann Kimber.

“From year one to year two, it’s already started to grow a lot,” she said. “From the [spring] of 2013 which is when we opened, there were probably no more than ten people involved, a tight core group of people who were volunteering. Since then we’ve gotten more people from the community involved.”

The bike exchange is open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

They also accept bike donations from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The exchange has also partnered with Bike N Gear in Somerset and Kim’s Bike Shop in New Brunswick to accept bike donations.

“They are a huge help to us because they are open every day and there’s usually a designated drop-off point,” said Kimber.

She believes the bike exchange provides many positives to the community.

“It’s important here for us to have access to bicycles, especially since there are many in the community that are low-income and they need to rely on it for transportation,” she said. “I think it’s also good for a sustainability stand point and for people in the city where traffic is terrible.

Kimber said she hopes to partner with the university to promote biking because students rely so heavily on the bus system. She also noted the exchange could help provide a greener world.

“Everyone says to me, ‘everyone has a bike in their garage that they’re not using,’ so I think it’s a good way to recycle and keep them from going in a landfill or rotting away in someone’s garage.”

The volunteer organization is working with AmeriCorps and the Rutgers Student Volunteer Council’s Semester of Service to help run the shop, but Kimber said the exchange welcomes all volunteers or donators.

The exchange will also be represented at New Brunswick’s Ciclovia on May 4.