Bicycle Road Signs

Getting out and biking for recreation, or perhaps as your main mode of transportation, benefits your body/health, and the health of the community...even our planet. There are also plentiful options for being of service to others in the world of bicycling. Here are some volunteer options, of course there are many, many others, to get two wheels spinning toward progress:

Community Cycles helps reclaim discarded bikes and get them “out of the waste stream” so others can enjoy the physical and community benefits of riding. It is based in Boulder, Colorado, but there are probably programs around you that have a similar empowering way to explore your own passion and help others as well.

The Volunteer Trail Safety Patrol works with volunteers to operate the volunteer bike patrol helping support and protect trail users and natural resources (plants, wildlife, trail quality) on San Francisco’s East Bay trail network.

Community Cycling Center in Portland, Oregon has volunteer opportunities for all of its two-wheel community programs, the most beloved being the “bike drives” where donated bikes are collected, repaired, spruced up, and given to kids from low income families.  Is there a program like this in your town? There certainly ought ot be–maybe you can start one?

There is a bicycle project open to volunteers in South Africa (as a week-long volunteer vacation stint) through Oasis Overland that gives you the chance to support user-generated transportation in small communities. It helps small communities save time and reduce carbon emmissions.

Charity Guide has a web page dedicated to creating volunteer opportunities around the country to get discarded bikes to the homeless. It’s a volunteer effort where you can make a difference with just a few hours of work in your community.

You can volunteer to do bike path and trail mainteneance, making sure everyone has safe access to biking in a region, like this volunteer project in Marco Island, Florida.

Every one of the big Bike-a-Thons, AIDS Rides, Rides for a Cure, and other one-day or multi-day, high mileage rides (including the recent Amgen Tour of California, a Tour de France-style elite race to raise money and awareness for cancer research) is run by volunteers. These huge, super-organized charitable fund-raising efforts are Herculean tasks tackled by inspired and inspiring volunteers along every step of the way. If you don’t want to ride in the saddle yourself and log mileage for a cause, make it happen for those who will. It is all in service to amazing charities, and both sides of the equation are required for success.

And when the bike is simply done, unrecyclable, can’t function as a bike any more…there is still a great opportunity before it gets put out to pasture. Globe Aware has a volunteer vacation program in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where the week’s service work includes building wheelchairs for victims of landmines from old bicycle parts, and delivering them directly to patients. Talk about changing a life!

There are so many more–this list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface–so today, even if you didn’t pedal into the office–use the day to be inspired to find a way to make a difference.

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation ( and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project ( Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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