BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There's a new doctor on duty in Biddeford, making house calls and getting patients up to speed, but all he asks in return for his services is a thank you.
Since 2005, the Community Bicycle Center has operated a drop-in bike repair shop in a space shared with the town's rec department on Hill Street. Hundreds of kids have called on the center, to fix-up their broken bikes, take groups rides and even earn new bikes, all for free.
"A lot of the kids that come in here, for whatever reasons, don't have or haven't had opportunities for caring adults to be involved in their lives or to go on a bike ride to see that that is the Atlantic Ocean, or how to problem solve like Bob is helping out right now," explained the CBC's founder, Andy Greif, gesturing towards a volunteer helping two boys get their bike back in working order.
"We're helping them learn how to make their bikes accessible to themselves," he added. "Bikes happen to be one of those first ways that kids can get out on their own and that sense of freedom."
To reach out to kids who can't make it to the center, the non-profit organization now makes house calls with their brand new, custom built Bike Doctor.
"It turns heads," stated Woodie Worthley, the man providing the pedal power and piloting the contraption through the city's streets. "A lot of people wave when we ride through town."
The Bike Doctor is a custom-built bike repair shop on wheels, and looks like a cross between a hotdog cart and a tandem bicycle. The behemoth contains all sorts of tools and equipment to allow the team to work on several bikes at a time.
"Last year, we just had the pilot program where we had a bike with a trailer on the back and we were going into the neighborhoods, but kids weren't coming out as much because it wasn't as visible," said Bronwyn Potthoff, the CBC's resource development and community relations director.
"It is the only one in the country that we know of that is a bike shop on wheels that is a program that is completely free for kids," she added.
While on the surface, the program seems to be about aiding kids' mobility and helping them stay active, the program is really about empowering kids, helping them to learn problem solving skills and mechanical skills. Jadyha Gardner is proof the message is spreading.
"I like, when I fix up a child's bike that is broken," he explained while working to fix a pesky chain issue. "I like how when I am done fixing it and it is ready to go, I like how there is a smile on their face and I like giving back to my community."
The Bike Doctor makes the rounds in Biddeford on Wednesday afternoons, but the CBC's drop-in repair shop is open Monday through Friday for kids needing a hand fixing their bike, or looking for a safe place to hang out.