Create a Commuter

Program Overview

Create a Commuter at Central City ConcernThe Create a Commuter program provides basic bicycle safety education and fully-outfitted commuter bicycles to adults living on low incomes who are striving to connect to work or workforce development by bicycle. If you are an individual looking to sign up for this program, you must be enrolled at one of our partner agencies and register through an employment specialist at that agency.

In 2013-2014, we are working with the following social service agencies:

- Hacienda CDC
- Easter Seals of Oregon, Latino Connection
- Home Forward – New Columbia
- Native American Youth and Family Center
- Portland Community College – Steps to Success Program
- Central City Concern
- Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization
- Southeast Works

The program is offered in partnership with local organizations that offer comprehensive employment programs. We currently partner with agencies that serve 30 or more participants in their employment program at any given time that qualify to receive bicycles, and we host our workshops at those partner agencies. We no longer take referrals for singular individuals, but rather work with our partner agencies who can fill a workshop with 15 or more participants. We hold 10-15 workshops per year, serving up to 168 people annually.

With volunteer support, our bicycle mechanics build the Create a Commuter bicycles and outfit them with everything a bicycle commuter would need including fenders, front and rear lights, locks, patch kits, tools, and racks.

Since 2001, the Create a Commuter program has been funded through the Federal Job Access Reverse Commute fund administered locally through TriMet. To date, we have provided bicycles and education to over 2,300 adults throughout the Portland Metro area.

Our Philosophy

Our instructors emphasize how the bicycle is a tool for empowerment and a vehicle for change. Through hands-on, experiential learning, participants gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to bicycle to work and other places they need to go.


Tom, a Create a Commuter graduateParticipants will receive instruction on bicycle safety and commuting basics in a one-time, five-hour workshop. Our 1:5 staff-to-participant ratio allows for personal instruction to meet the needs of all participants. From the most basic instruction to advanced riding skills, every participant will start where they are comfortable and grow from there. Our instructors receive comprehensive training in the fundamentals of experiential education and bike safety prior to leading a workshop.

All Create a Commuter Participants will learn:
  • Mechanical skills
  • Safety checks
  • Parts identification
  • Cleaning and basic maintenance
  • Safe riding skills
  • Laws and rules of the road
  • Helmet fitting
  • Making safe decisions on the road
  • Group riding skills
  • Map reading
  • Hand signals
  • How to take a bike on TriMet
To be eligible for our program, participants must:
  • Be within 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines*
  • Be referred by a partner agency
  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Reside in the Portland Metro Area
  • Be able to ride a bike
  • Have an expressed need and interest in using a bicycle as a regular form of transportation
  • Be employed or enrolled in a comprehensive employment program
To qualify as a partner, agencies must:
  • Work with individuals 18 and older
  • Be able to verify that all participants are within 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • Have a comprehensive employment program and retain contact with clients for a minimum of three months
  • Provide a case worker to screen at least 15 participants, enroll them in the program all together, and provide follow up interviews with participants 30 days after the workshop
  • Fill out an Agency Application and be approved by our program

Our partner agencies for the program year have been chosen . If your agency is not on the list and you would like to be considered for the 2014 program year, please see our eligibility requirements above and fill out an Agency Application. Please remember we only consider partner agencies that can recruit 15 or more participants to fill a workshop, as we no longer take referrals for singular participants.

At this time, we are only working directly with social service agencies to enroll participants in the Create a Commuter program.  If you are not currently receiving employment support services, please note that we offer many low-cost bicycles at our neighborhood bike shop.

If you have questions not answered above, please have an agency staff member contact our Program Manager, Kelly Hansen, at

* $16,245 annually for a single member household. See the Federal Poverty Guidelines for more information.


Photos by Sam Lee and  Britt Appleton