Meadville Tribune

Local News

January 17, 2010

Community push on to take up riding

Zambia is one of the world’s most impoverished countries. Infant mortality there is unimaginable, and an estimated 10 percent of the adult population are HIV positive.

It’s quite a scene, one that has prompted Meadville resident Ben Masters, who served in the Peace Corps there for three years, to do something in an effort to give back to his community, wherever he is living.

And after spending time in a country where bicycles served as the most reliable, not to mention healthy, source of transportation, it’s bikes that Masters, 28, along with the help of fellow Meadville resident Dave Vinch, 60, is hoping to give to the Meadville-area community.

“If we can give something back, that’s what we’re after,” said Masters.

It was August when Masters, who returned here after serving in the Peace Corps from 2003 to ’06, decided he wanted to do something in the way of advocating the use of bikes as “a means of cheap, sustainable, healthy and fun transportation.” But Masters wasn’t completely sure what he wanted to do and how he wanted to present it.

So he went to the Internet and found some great ideas, including Free Ride in Pittsburgh, which Masters became particularly interested in. Free Ride is a bicycle education facility driven solely by volunteers that recycles bikes and provides them to people of all ages at low cost in addition to offering repair classes.

Masters went down and volunteered for a few weeks and decided that was, in essence, what he wanted to do back here. A computer search to find those interested in donating bikes connected Masters with Vinch, who was looking to do something similar, and from there N.W. Pa. Re-Cycle was born.

“It had been an idea of mine for a long time to do something like this,” Vinch said. “There is no lack of kids with broken bikes in this town.”

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