Tern Bikes Donates Profits to Pro-Cycling Nonprofits

The company is giving back to organizations that are working to make biking a more integral part of our lives.

Tern Bikes

Tern Bikes

Treehugger design editor Lloyd Alter has called the Tern HSD the “future of urban e-bikes.” The question is, however, what does that future look like in communities where the automobile continues to dominate?

Well, it looks like Tern is working on that piece of the puzzle too. Specifically, they are moving beyond simply designing bikes built for serious transportation, and instead also giving back to organizations that are working to make biking a more integral part of our lives. 

It’s part of Tern’s Give Back program, through which the company donates at least 1% of the previous year's net profits to social or environmental causes that are working towards a better, healthier, and more equitable planet. For 2021, Tern's donations total more than $45,000 and will be directed to three organizations that are actively promoting bikes, biking, and bike culture as a tool for social equity. 

Here’s how Josh Hon, Tern Team Captain, described the context for these grants: "2020 had such a massive impact on everyone, everywhere, and in so many ways—but the one thing that really hit home for me was the appalling levels of inequality that are out there. So we're focusing our Give Back dollars on organizations that are working to make a difference. That these organizations are bicycle and transportation-focused is icing on the cake." 

Specifically, the grants will be divvied up between three different organizations: 

World Bicycle Relief: A non-profit organization founded in 2004 after the Indian Ocean tsunami. Working with local populations around the world, World Bicycle Relief promotes regionally and culturally appropriate bikes as a sustainable means of economic development. Tern's sponsorship will go to the organization’s Women on Wheels campaign, which this year is focusing on the effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on women and girls. 
The PeopleForBikes Foundation: This group works at the local level to advance their mission of getting more people riding bikes more often—awarding grants for things like bike lanes, trails, parks and paths, with a particular focus on projects that serve those with few places to safely ride. Tern’s sponsorship will help fund a Community Grant for a bike park or pump track project serving an under-resourced BIPOC community—with the recipient of that grant to be identified later this year.
Trips for Kids: This group operates through a network of 50 mostly volunteer-driven chapters in North America. Its stated mission is “for every kid in every community to have access to cycling, the outdoors, and a basic understanding of their impact on the environment.” Tern's support will go towards the More Girls on Bikes program, which aims to increase both female ridership and leadership within the Trips for Kids community. In addition, the sponsorship will help develop the Learn+Earn-a-Bike Online program—which enables a virtual version of their in-person Earn-a-Bike Workshop—with the goal to reach 250 youth in 2021, and 1000 youth in 2022. 

Besides the worthy nature of the projects themselves, there are two aspects of Tern’s grant initiative that stand out to me: 

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s yet one more reminder of how cost-effective investments in cycling can be. $45,000 is, after all, not a lot of money in the grand scheme of corporate donations. Yet when invested in cycling, it will likely change thousands of lives for the better.
Secondly, it’s a small example of what might happen if the bike industry became more strategic and vocal about putting bikes at the center of community planning and development. In addition to this Give Back program, Tern has also developed some really interesting resources and case studies for using e-bikes and cargo bikes in business, which we hope to cover in more detail in a future article. 

Ultimately, we all know that the fossil fuel and automobile industries have been aggressive in not just meeting demand—but creating and manipulating it to their ends, and in shaping the social and legislative environment in their favor. It’s time the bike industry and other clean tech did the same. From charitable donations to lobbying to strategic alliances, all tools should be on the table. 

E-bikes really could eat cars. But we’ll probably need to set the table so they can.