A peek inside our FREE ‘Adopt A Bike’ program 

Students Oswaldo Cruz (left) and Bryan Aguilar said they are happy with their bikes. / Photo: Mey Mitteenn.

The Spanish version of this story is here

When Oswaldo Cruz opened his email and saw a message from school asking if he was interested in a free bike, his heart jumped with excitement. He filled out a simple form and a week later, he was the first to arrive at his school’s event in Hawthorne, where the bikes were going to be handed out. He chose one with his favorite colors: red and black. “I was very happy to receive it,” says 14-year-old. “I had a bike when I was little, and always dreamed of having another one.” 

Mondays through Fridays, Oswaldo now bikes to Hawthorne Math & Science Academy, the only high school in the Hawthorne School District. “I used to walk more than 20 minutes to get to class. If I took just a few extra minutes to get ready, I ended up being late,” says the ninth grader. “Ever since I received my bike, three months ago, I’ve always been on time!” On weekends, Oswaldo uses his bike to meet up with friends in local parks.  

The bike came into Oswaldo’s hands thanks to Adopt A Bike, a Metro program that works with community groups to provide residents of vulnerable communities in Los Angeles County with free bikes. The goal is to improve mobility options so community members can access schools, jobs, and recreation. 

But where do these bikes come from? 

Every month, between 300 and 400 bicycles are left on our bus and rail systems and other properties. They then go to Metro’s Lost and Found Department, near A Line Heritage Station, and remain there for 90 days, as required by California law. After that, they become the agency’s property. While some owners come to look for their bicycle, about 75% of them remain unclaimed.  

Years ago, these bicycles were sold off at auction or ended up sold for scrap, but since 2021, when the program launched, they have gone to the Adopt A Bike program to be returned to the community. The program became permanent in 2023 and today Metro works with five Community Based Organizations or CBOs (find which ones here) that receive small grants to repair the bikes and identify people who need them most. 

Over the last three years, the program has distributed almost 4,000 bicycles through Adopt A Bike, making it the biggest program of its kind in the nation. Our CBO partners have given bikes to people across the county: low-income families, students, people from the LGBTQ community and homeless or foster youth.  

Bryan Aguilar, who goes to the same school in Hawthorne, received his bike three months ago. “I use it for school, and on the weekends, I help my mother deliver the food for her business,” says the 18-year-old. “She prepares Salvadoran food, and she uses our only car to deliver the orders that are far from home,” says Bryan. “I make the local deliveries.” Since there is space on buses and trains to take his bike with him, he has also gone for rides to DTLA, Hollywood, Long Beach, and Santa Monica. 

“This program is crucial for the community because it gives us a means of transportation to get around and make connections,” Bryan says. “I think it opens a door to more opportunities.” 

Guillermo Castro shows his bike. / Photo: courtesy.

In addition to Hawthorne, Adopt A Bike serves communities in Cudahy, Compton, Boyle Heights, Long Beach, Culver City and other cities and neighborhoods throughout East and South Los Angeles, such as Bellflower, where local resident Guillermo Castro received a new bike nine months ago. “I use my bike to go to work —35 minutes there and 35 minutes back from Monday to Friday,” says the 55-year-old man. 

When Guillermo was younger, he used to run marathons in his native Mexico, but as time went by and he got busy with work, he stopped. It wasn’t until he started to feel short of breath and his doctor detected high cholesterol that he returned to running immediately. “Now I focus on my health. The bicycle is my tool to exercise and stay healthy,” he says. “In a city where many still use cars, but there are exclusive roads for cyclists and without congestion, I feel like king on the bicycle.” 

For more information, contact AdoptABike@metro.net or visit metro.net/about/adopt-a-bike    

Categories: Transportation News

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2 replies

  1. Nice I’m in need to get a bicicle to exercise me I would like to adopt a bicicle…

  2. It brought tears to my eyes to read the impact a bicycle makes for so many in need of transportation. Thank you Metro and partners!

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