By Joan Slowey Dellett
Just walking into Second Life Bikes on Main Street in Asbury Park, it is hard to believe that there are actually any bikes left on the street. Row after row after row of bicycles of every type, color, number of wheels and gears line the shop. Bikes for sale, bikes being worked on, bikes waiting to be brought back to life. If you can’t find a bicycle here that fits your style, well maybe it doesn’t exist.
When the events of 9/11 had owner Kerri Martin re-examining her life, she decided it was time to make some changes. A live-long cyclist, Kerri made the move from New York City to New Jersey and turned her passion from just riding bikes to rehabilitating used bikes in the Asbury Park area. Starting “bike church” in a garage at Holy Spirit Catholic church where she helped local children care for bikes and practice bike safety, she quickly outgrew that space and opened a small shop next to a rescue mission also in Asbury Park. Seeing a real need for the kind of services she was offering, Kerri soon realized she was outgrowing that space too and moved into the current location, a former warehouse on Main Street.
Working strictly with donated bicycles, (Second Life Bikes of a 501(c)3 nonprofit), she built the business into a thriving community gathering place where staff and volunteers can help customers find the bicycle that fits their lifestyle. Wanting to give back to the community that had embraced her efforts so warmly, Kerri looked for ways to involve the community and share her passion for bicycling. She developed a program in which youth, ages 12 through 18, put in 15 hours of time working on bikes in exchange for a bike of their own, which they restore using the skills they have learned. In addition to gaining valuable practical skills, youths are exposed to the importance of committing their time to a community organization, learning the life skills of responsibility, working cooperatively with others and following through on obligations.
Second Life Bikes also partners with the Alliance for a Healthier Asbury Park and the Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition working to prevent and reduce obesity and chronic disease by increasing opportunities for physical activity, supporting neighborhood safety and affordable transportation and reducing barriers to health for residents.
In the spirit of continuing Kerri’s continued commitment to the community, Second Life Bikes also offers safe biking skills classes, is partnering with schools and scout groups and has instituted a practice of giving away free bikes at Christmas. Donated bicycles and parts are vital in sustaining Second Life Bikes as is developing a force of volunteers, regardless of their mechanical ability, who can contribute in various ways to help the bike shop function from day to day in addition to prepping bikes before the big Christmas giveaway. Everything they are given is put to good use and given the chance to have a “second life”.
To visit Second Life Bikes or to get more information:
http://www.secondlifebikes.org/ or call Kerri at 732-776-6878