Ready to roll: Bike giveaway due for another turn at US Army base in South Korea
Stars and Stripes September 14, 2023
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — U.S. Army retiree Daniel Melton has a new mission — restoring hundreds of abandoned bicycles at the home of Eighth Army, 2nd Infantry Division and U.S. Forces Korea.
Melton and five other volunteers spent nearly four hours Saturday cleaning, repairing and replacing parts on some of the bikes. By the end of the day, four were ready to roll.
“We want to give these bikes back to the community to service members who are coming in,” he told Stars and Stripes that day. “So, they’ve got a bicycle they can use … we give them that.”
Abandoned bikes and scooters — rusted and cobweb-covered — accumulate quickly at Humphreys, the largest U.S. military installation overseas. More than 200, along with helmets and other gear, are stored in an on-base warehouse, many collected since the last bike giveaway in 2020.
Two years ago, an Army staff sergeant with the provost marshal’s office started rounding up forsaken two-wheelers littering the base.
Today, the Humphreys Bike Program, a garrison-sponsored charity started by Melton, a USO volunteer, helps connect would-be cyclists with rehabilitated two-wheelers.
Melton separates the discarded bikes and scooters into three categories: those that are fine as-is; some that need a few repairs; and others that will provide spare parts such as tires and chains.
Once he has the bikes ready, Melton plans another giveaway in December. In the past, the bikes found new owners among staff sergeants and below, who are precluded from owning a motor vehicle during their tours in South Korea.
The new owners are responsible for ensuring the bikes are properly registered on Camp Humphreys.
“You take the paperwork to the [pass and ID office] and get it registered and bring me a copy back to keep on file,” he said. “We can track it, and before your departure date we’re going to contact your unit and tell you to de-register the bike.”
One of the volunteer bike mechanics, Sgt. 1st Class Jojo Alicaba, expects plenty of people will be interested in a free bike.
“I don’t know how it’s going to impact the community, but I hope that with a lot of soldiers walking around at least they’ll have a bicycle,” Alicaba said. “This a good opportunity for I guess for the Garrison to give back to those soldiers in need.”