'Elves' Are Busy Fixing Up Bikes For Disadvantaged Children

Monday, November 25, 2019
WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5's Anne Kramer
  • Credit: Anne Kramer

  • Ted Cochran, president of Free Bikes 4 Kidz Maryland. Credit: Anne Kramer

  • Marv Zelkowitz (left), Kris Salerno (middle left), Saul Zuckman (middle right) and Ted Cochran (right) work on bikes for disadvantaged kids. Credit: Anne Kramer

  • Credit: Anne Kramer

  • Bill Musser, volunteer for Bikes 4 Kidz Maryland, works on a bike. Credit: Anne Kramer

  • Kris Salerno with Race Pace Bicycles Columbia, assembles a bike. Credit: Anne Kramer

  • Bikes to be handed out on Dec. 14 to disadvantaged children. Credit: Anne Kramer

A group of volunteers who love to cycle are working tirelessly to clean up, repair and bring new life to hundreds of bikes before Christmas.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz Maryland was started just this past July by Howard County native Ted Cochran. He recently moved back to Howard County from Minnesota, where he was active in the nonprofit in Minneapolis. 

In October, the donations of gently used bikes started. They were collected and then taken to an office space in Columbia off Little Patuxent Parkway, which was transformed into a workshop of sorts. There are bikes of all sizes and rooms with bicycles that have already gone through the repair process.

The 450 donated bikes go through a series of stations, where the bikes get a good, thorough cleaning.

Then the gears, chains, brakes and tires get checked out by volunteers and other cycling enthusiasts.

"A bike is a kid's first ticket to freedom. You don't have to wait for mom to take you to your friend's house, which is only two miles away. You can ride your bike anywhere you want to go," Cochran says. And that is why he started a Maryland chapter of the organization. Cochran wanted to get more children on bikes and away from computer screens and cellphones.

Cochran also wants to make sure children whose families may not otherwise be able to afford a bike get one and learn how to ride.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz Maryland works with a number of neighborhood charities to find children in need who may want a bike, and then the children will show up on Dec. 14 and get their bike.

Cochran says on that day, the kids are then fitted for their bikes, checked over for safety once again, and they are given a free new bike helmet.

Cochran says there are millions of bikes hat get maybe one or two uses by their owners and then left outside to rust, thrown away or tucked away for years in a garage or shed.

He hopes to expand the program to other parts of the area in the future.

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