This summer, over 300 college students and recent graduates will forgo summer jobs as camp counselors, lifeguards, and interns. They'll bike over 31,000 miles across the United States. And they'll spend the whole time advocating, raising money for, and building affordable housing. Riding for an organization called Bike & Build, these bikers from all over the country are working together to promote exercise, exploration and healthy living, as well as affordable housing and community service.
Bike & Build's eight routes each stretch from the east to the west coast at different latitudes: some cross through the northern states; others hit the deep South. Each takes about two months, and riders stop once or twice a week to spend a day working on an affordable housing construction site. They also talk to community members and housing officials, giving presentations they've prepared on the importance of affordable housing.Emma Scott, who'll be pedaling from Boston to Santa Barbara starting next week, said of Bike & Build:
It promotes exercise, exploration and healthy living as well as affordable housing and community service. It requires riders to be proactive and disciplined leading up the trip-- we fundraise at least $4,000 each, train intensively on our bikes, participate in service projects at our local housing authorities and prepare presentations about specific affordable housing topics.
To date, the more than 1,000 young people who have ridden for Bike & Build have raised over $2.3 million since the organization's founding in 2002. Click here to donate to a specific rider or to Bike & Build as a whole.
2009 participants spend a day building a house, en route from South Carolina to Santa Cruz.
The work of Bike & Build is part of a larger, international trend- using long-distance bike trips for commendable causes. Riders, and they're almost always young people, have crossed the United States, Europe, Japan and the Amazon, among many other places, for causes ranging from fighing global poverty to promoting green living. It's a movement we can't get enough of, and one that's only picking up speed.