Volunteers at the Long Island Bicycle Co-op talk about the satisfaction of giving new life to old bicycles for use by those in need. Credit: Morgan Campbell

A new year-round partnership between Smithtown’s Municipal Services Facility and a nonprofit aims to save used bicycles from being recycled, instead restoring them for reuse by low-income residents.

Neal Sheehan, sanitation supervisor of the town facility — where residents can drop off waste for recycling, construction debris or large household appliances — said he had started to notice more bicycles being dropped off at the facility for metal recycling.

“I looked at this, and I said, ‘Man, it's such a shame that they keep letting these bikes go to waste and become scrap metal,' ” Sheehan said.

Having heard of a program in Brookhaven Town where people could donate unwanted bicycles at the town's Solid Waste Management Facility for reuse, Sheehan said he decided last year to contact the nonprofit Long Island Bicycle Co-op to ask if they could partner with the nonprofit to bring something similar to Smithtown.

The program, which started in January, has so far seen people drop off at least 17 bicycles, which the facility’s employees have since delivered to the nonprofit in St. James, according to Nicole Garguilo, Smithtown’s public information officer.

While noting that it wasn’t a large number so far, Sheehan said he expects that the facility will receive even more bicycles from people around March as the weather warms and people start to consider giving away their old bicycles to get new ones.

In particular, Sheehan said he hopes the program can reach more people who can’t afford bicycles, as well as children and teenagers, who will be able to experience the joy of bicycle riding.

On occasion, volunteers at the bicycle co-op’s St. James office and garage at the Flowerfield industrial complex say they will see people give away bicycles ranging from models found in the 1940s to modern bikes that just need the right touch to get them on the road again.

Greg Ferguson, the nonprofit’s founder, says while they don’t screen people based on need, his group — which also has locations in Manorville and Lake Success — usually gives away roughly 1,200 bicycles annually around Long Island, preferring to give them to the needy in bulk through food pantries, group homes and social workers.

Michael Caiazzo, a pastor at the Bellport-based Lighthouse Mission food pantry, said his organization often provides bicycles received from the co-op to people in need, including children.

As he worked on fixing the handlebars of one bike in a garage lined with blue, black, pink and green bicycles from various decades, Paul Pizzano, of St. James, a volunteer at the Flowerfield location, said his favorite part of the program was seeing the look on the faces of people when they receive a bike of their own in good condition.

“There’s a little bit of disbelief that they’re going to get a bike for free,” Pizzano said.

A new year-round partnership between Smithtown’s Municipal Services Facility and a nonprofit aims to save used bicycles from being recycled, instead restoring them for reuse by low-income residents.

Neal Sheehan, sanitation supervisor of the town facility — where residents can drop off waste for recycling, construction debris or large household appliances — said he had started to notice more bicycles being dropped off at the facility for metal recycling.

“I looked at this, and I said, ‘Man, it's such a shame that they keep letting these bikes go to waste and become scrap metal,' ” Sheehan said.

Having heard of a program in Brookhaven Town where people could donate unwanted bicycles at the town's Solid Waste Management Facility for reuse, Sheehan said he decided last year to contact the nonprofit Long Island Bicycle Co-op to ask if they could partner with the nonprofit to bring something similar to Smithtown.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Smithtown’s Municipal Services Facility recently started a year-round program in which residents can give away their unwanted bicycles to economically underserved individuals.

  • The program teams with the Long Island Bicycle Co-op in St. James, where the bicycles are restored and given to groups and individuals.

  • Residents can drop off at the Smithtown facility during regular business hours from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The program, which started in January, has so far seen people drop off at least 17 bicycles, which the facility’s employees have since delivered to the nonprofit in St. James, according to Nicole Garguilo, Smithtown’s public information officer.

While noting that it wasn’t a large number so far, Sheehan said he expects that the facility will receive even more bicycles from people around March as the weather warms and people start to consider giving away their old bicycles to get new ones.

In particular, Sheehan said he hopes the program can reach more people who can’t afford bicycles, as well as children and teenagers, who will be able to experience the joy of bicycle riding.

On occasion, volunteers at the bicycle co-op’s St. James office and garage at the Flowerfield industrial complex say they will see people give away bicycles ranging from models found in the 1940s to modern bikes that just need the right touch to get them on the road again.

Greg Ferguson, the nonprofit’s founder, says while they don’t screen people based on need, his group — which also has locations in Manorville and Lake Success — usually gives away roughly 1,200 bicycles annually around Long Island, preferring to give them to the needy in bulk through food pantries, group homes and social workers.

Michael Caiazzo, a pastor at the Bellport-based Lighthouse Mission food pantry, said his organization often provides bicycles received from the co-op to people in need, including children.

As he worked on fixing the handlebars of one bike in a garage lined with blue, black, pink and green bicycles from various decades, Paul Pizzano, of St. James, a volunteer at the Flowerfield location, said his favorite part of the program was seeing the look on the faces of people when they receive a bike of their own in good condition.

“There’s a little bit of disbelief that they’re going to get a bike for free,” Pizzano said.

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