Paul McQuaid, the owner of River Cycles on Dublin’s Usher’s Island, has launched The Good Bike Project with the aim to step up efforts to provide bicycles for refugees.
McQuaid launched The Good Bike Project on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show last night by handing over the 1,500 and the 1,501 bicycles restored to two Ukrainian refugees.
He said: “The 1,500 bike is marking the journey until now and the 1,501 is the start of the future of this project.”
He started repairing bicycles 8 months ago and now aims to hand out another 2,500 to refugees from different countries in the next 12 months. The project has partners such as the Irish Red Cross and DPD.
The group is still seeking bicycles but McQuaid said that each bike costs an estimated average cost of “€100 to check, repair and prepare”, so, they are also seeking funding and have set up a GoFundMe page.
Adriaan Palm, Dutch Ambassador to Ireland who appeared on the Late Late beside the two Ukrainian women, said afterwards: “Cycling is healthy, but with this, acting together, we stand with Ukraine.”
Giving the back story to the project, McQuaid said: “Early one Sunday morning a little over 8 months ago I got a text from a barrister friend of mine. It was a screen grab of a Facebook post from a Ukrainian woman. She was staying in the Hilton hotel in Swords and had just got her two kids into a school which was a 45 minute walk away. There was no public transport and she was looking for someone to help her get two bikes for her kids.”
He said that his friend suggested he provide them with bikes, but that when this friend suggests something, it’s never really a suggestion.
“I WhatsApp’d this woman right away and said that I would give her three of my own bikes. When I brought the bikes out to the hotel I was pretty blown away by the effect it had on all three of them. Quite profound actually. I knew on my cycle back to the shop that morning that I was going to have to do something for the Ukrainians fleeing the war,” he said.
McQuaid said: “I spoke with my partner, Kelly, that evening and we decided that we would put a call out to the Ukrainian community and see if there was a need for bikes for other families. Over 5,000 emails and 1,500 bikes later here we are. The need for bikes within this community is huge.”
He said he is supported by a “tiny army of volunteers collecting bikes and delivering bikes for us.”
McQuaid said that The Good Bike Project has been set up separately from River Cycles and a board of directors has been put in place. He said that the Red Cross is also assisting logistically and financially.
“There are Ukrainian refugees all over Ireland who now have bikes because Des [Travers, CEO of DPD] rang us one day and said, ‘what can we do to help?’, added McQuaid. He explained that DPD delivers three bikes every day to “the four corners of the country”.
The Good Bike Project is one of a number of different groups refurbishing bicycles for refugees, others in Dublin include two social enterprises Frontline Bikes in Inchicore and The Bike Hub in Dún Laoghaire.