‘The Bike Dude’ of Silver Spring, Manuel Vera, has been recognized as a Local Hero of the Week by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-District 8) for fixing and donating bikes to his neighbors and to refugees.
“In the early days of COVID-19, Manuel Vera began fixing and giving bikes to his neighbors in Silver Spring, including refugees and people in need,” Rep. Raskin said in a Facebook post. “Manuel, your continuing generosity and kindness make you a true #MD08 Local Hero!”
Vera started repairing bikes as a retirement hobby to donate them to community members, including Afghans who recently immigrated to the area. During the lockdown resulting from the outbreak of the pandemic, Vera was inspired to repair bicycles for families in his neighborhood. In 2021, however, the Taliban took over control of Kabul, and he was tasked with fixing bikes for incoming Afghan children and their parents.
Since then, he has given away hundreds of bikes, many of which have been donated to Afghan families.
“I just want to be the bike dude,” Vera said in a 2021 DCist interview. “I just want to be able to give them something that makes them happy right now. Something that they can use, gives them joy, and then go on to the next thing.”
According to MoCo360, Vera was born in Peru and immigrated to the United States in 1964, living on Long Island for approximately three years before moving to Montgomery County. As a member of the second-ever graduating class from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, he graduated in 1968.
The International Rescue Committee and Homes Not Borders are among the charitable organizations he works with to schedule pick-ups and orders, but he handles the majority of his work alone in his shop.
“As long as I get requests, people want bikes and as long as people have bikes to donate to me, I think I’m going to keep it going,” Vera said to MoCo360 in July.
Photo: Rep. Jamie Raskin / YouTube