Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

11 May 2018

A Bicycle Ministry For The Poor

Everyone needs a place to live.  To get or keep that, most people need a job.  

To get or keep a job--or simply to survive--most people have to go to appointments with doctors, social workers and agencies.  They may have  training sessions or meetings with support groups.  Or they might be in school.

To get to those meetings, appointments, classes and jobs, they need a way to get to them--i.e., transportation.  In the US, there is little or no public transportation outside of central neighborhoods in large American cities.  Even within such communities, those trains and buses may be inaccessible for one reason or another.  Or their fares might be out of reach for someone without a job or home.

A person who is trying to get his or her life together may not have a car, or may not be able to drive.  That makes getting to work, school, meetings or appointments difficult, if not impossible, for things are usually not within walking distance.

Thus, a bicycle may be the only way for such a person to get around.  Of course, if the person doesn't have income, he or she can't buy a bike.  But even if someone is given a bike or finds it on the street or in the trash, it will probably need to be fixed.  Even the most minimal repairs--even if the person in need can do them--cost money.  A new tire and tube or cable, let alone a shop's labor to install them, can really set someone's budget back.  If "they have to pay $50 or $60 for a repair," says Stephen Bently, "that is money out of their pocket they can use for something else--food, clothing, basic needs."  Not having to pay "is a huge savings for people who are trying to survive on the street," he says.

Bently is a Deacon at St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown Stockton, California.  A little over two years ago, he started a ministry called HUB (Helping Urban Bicyclists) in an old storefront owned by his church.  In that time, he has worked on 250 bikes, including one belonging to Ghafoor Khan.  "I rely on it a lot," says the 50-year-old who is trying to get back on his feet.

He might become one of Bently's success stories:  folks who got jobs and, in some cases, saved up enough to buy cars--and donate their bikes back to the ministry.

Bently says that his work is part of his role as a deacon, which is to "minister to people who have particular needs."  For the people he helps, that need was transportation.  That is why he fixes bikes, and even builds them from scratch.  It gives the people he serves one less thing to worry about, he says.


  1. Proof that bikey people are awesome!

  2. Anon--YOu won't get any argument about that from me!