PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — You can find bikes in his garage, car, living room, dining room, and even home gym.
They have taken over Portsmouth resident James Cullen’s home.
“It’s kind of grown out of control, as you can see,” Cullen said with a chuckle.
The U.S. Coast Guard commander and volunteer Portsmouth sheriff’s deputy swears he’s not a bike hoarder because these wheels are going to those in need.
“It kinda started about a year ago. I was volunteering in Portsmouth and I ran across a young boy and his bike had been stolen… I felt bad for him. His family didn’t have any money to get him a new one, so my partner and I ended up getting him a new bike. It’s a nice feeling being able to help somebody,” Cullen said.
Between a crash last November, and COVID-19, Cullen found himself with a lot of downtime.
As a previous bike patrol officer, he put his skills to good use. He started buying broken bikes from all over, fixing them up, and posting for them for free in search of a good home on social media.
“A lot of people were skeptical like ‘What’s the catch?’ Like, there’s no catch I just want to help somebody. This was me buying bikes fixing them up and selling them but then people started coming forward saying, I heard what you’re doing I’d like to donate a bike or parts,'” he stated.
Dozens of bikes later, Cullen has spent countless hours fixing up everything from speed bikes to tricycles. He says it’s all worth it. Every bike donor and recipient holds a special place in his heart, each with their own story, like one Portsmouth couple.
“They [ran] into some employment issues. They had converted a lot of their time to making masks for first responders. They lived here in Portsmouth. They wrote and said ‘Here is our situation, we’d love to ride around the neighborhood’ then I got to see their post later the two bikes together. It kind of gets you,” he smiled.
Cullen isn’t sure what the future holds, but for now, he’ll keep turning the rust into shine, giving these bikes a new home and community members a reason to smile.
“I can tell you, in the City of Portsmouth people here are amazing and I think this is true across the region,” Cullen said.
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