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Bikes for Vets volunteers hope shortages won't hamper annual collection drive

The group got 172 bikes last year, a number that may be hard to match this year.

INDIANAPOLIS — At first glance, you might think you’re just looking at a collection of used bicycles.

For the veterans who eventually receive them through the “Bikes for Vets” program at Saint Vincent de Paul, they often become a lifeline. 

“The people we’ve had contact within the past have all said the same thing: they’re a blessing,” said Bob Wahlstrom with the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus. 

Wahlstrom is in his fourth year of helping collect used bikes during the annual drive at Saint Alphonsus Catholic Church in Zionsville. 

This year, it’ll look a little different because of COVID-19. Everyone will be wearing masks. 

“We’ll take every precaution we can to make sure we’re safe,” said Wahlstrom. 

Last year, Bikes for Vets collected 172 bikes. It’s hard to say what that number will be this year, though, amid a global bicycle shortage. Right now, bikes and bike parts are just hard to come by. 

“I tell people all the time, bicycles and bicycle parts are the new toilet paper and antiseptic wipes — you can’t get it,” said Shawn Ransford with The Bike Line. 

Ransford says when coronavirus hit, bike production around the world stopped for nearly four months. When production resumed, bikes were in high demand, as more people headed outdoors and avoided public transportation.

“Production overseas is back up, but we’re at a six-month backlog,” Ransford said. 

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Instead of buying new bikes and donating their used ones, more people have been fixing the ones they already have. 

“Normally, people would donate those, but now they’re trying to get them repaired,” Ransford said. 

Wahlstrom says despite people holding onto their used bikes, there was never a thought of canceling this year’s drive. 

“I just couldn’t see canceling it because there’s so much need,” he said Wahlstrom. 

The bike drive takes place this Saturday and Sunday, as well as next weekend, from noon to 5 p.m. 

Bikes are being collected at Saint Alphonsus Catholic Church in Zionsville.

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