In 2008 Tim and Becky O’Mara moved into Adair Park, a historic neighborhood in Southwest Atlanta. They soon noticed that the surrounding environment wasn’t the safest. One day the opportunity presented itself to help a young girl earn money for new tires for her worn out bike. After a few weeks of doing chores around the O’Mara house, she earned enough money for her tires. Tim and Becky surprised her with a brand new bike, soon all the neighborhood kids wanted to know how they too could earn a bike. And so the idea for the Beltline Bike Shop was born.
The Beltline Bike Shop takes donated bikes and gives kids from Southwest Atlanta the opportunity to earn a bike of their own through community service. Residents of Adair Park were frustrated by the constant littering, so the O’Maras used this need to create a win-win situation: kids clean up trash to earn bikes. Thus a process model was established: “Give a kid a bike and he will simply ride it wherever he goes, but let him earn the bike and you can make him a part of the community. Make him a contributing member of his family and community, and you have the makings of a confident, responsible and healthy child who has a significantly less chance of falling into a life of crime and violence and who has the support of a community that values his contribution.” Beltline believes a bike isn’t just a mode of transportation—it’s also a vehicle for relationship building between kids and community leaders.
Beltline Bike Shop’s vision is to build similar shops in new locations around the city of Atlanta. The goal isn’t just to give away free bikes, but to build communities by connecting kids with positive influences.