Brian Diamond-Falk fixes up used bikes to donate out of the garage at his Portland home. He usually has about 20 bikes in the garage at any give time, he says. Mikayla Patel / The Forecaster

Brian Diamond-Falk of Portland has provided a set of wheels to more than 300 New Mainers and other residents in need since 2020.

He takes donated bicycles, fixes them up and sends them on their way to the Maine Needs and Neighbors in Need groups, which distribute them to their new owners.

“Brian has been a miracle worker,” said Rosemarie De Angelis of South Portland, who works with asylum seekers and other New Mainers. Not only does he get bikes to people who need them as quickly as possible, she said, he’s great at matching his revamped bikes to their new owners for perfect fits.

Diamond-Falk is gearing up for his fourth season and seeking donations. He’s not picky about the bikes he accepts. If he thinks he can make it functional, he said, he’ll take it.

“I’ve had high-end bikes and the department store ones, too, that have found their way into a river and are covered in rust,” he said.

Brian Diamond-Falk, pictured here in 2020, fixed up a bicycle for Platini Nzongo, pictured in background, to make commuting easier for him during the pandemic. Since then he has repaired more than 300 bikes for people in need. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald

A culinary instructor at Southern Maine Community College, Diamond-Falk started the project after realizing that a family of asylum seekers his family had temporarily hosted from the Democratic Republic of Congo had no means of getting around once they moved into permanent housing. The pandemic made things more difficult.


“The buses weren’t reliable, if they were even running, for the first few months,” he said.

So he fixed up an old bike to give to the father in the family, Platini Nzongo, to use to run errands. Nzongo’s friends told Diamond-Falk there was a great need in their community for more bikes.

It’s very challenging for asylum seekers to obtain a driver’s license, Diamond-Falk said, and bicycling is often their only transportation option outside of riding the public buses, which aren’t always easily accessible.

More than 1,030 asylum seekers have arrived in Portland since Jan. 1, but Diamond-Falk said the need for bicycles extends beyond that community.

“The workers who rely on public transportation tend to be in the service industry or second and third shift jobs, and the system just doesn’t run that late,” he said.

De Angelis has distributed about 20 of Diamond-Falk’s rehabbed bikes through Maine Needs and another 15 to 20 on her own.


“The majority of people I’ve gotten bikes for get them out of necessity,” said De Angelis, who is also chairperson of the Bicycle-Pedestrian Committee in South Portland.

One of her biggest concerns for the bike recipients is safety.

“I end up buying lights, helmets and locks,” she said. “People don’t donate those things.”

Many of the bike recipients don’t have experience riding in traffic, and she’s always sure to insist upon helmets, closed-toed shoes and reflective gear at night.

Diamond-Falk said he has been collaborating with Portland Gear Hub, which has a program to educate people on bike maintenance and road safety, and once they complete the program, they receive a bike, helmet and lock.

He and De Angelis say bike theft is also a big concern for the recipients of the donated bikes.


Some of his bike recipients are unhoused, with no place to keep their bikes. Some live in Section 8 housing and are often are not allowed to store their bikes inside, leaving them vulnerable to theft.

“The most expensive locks can still leave parts of the bike vulnerable,” he said.

Some people have returned to him seeking another after their bikes have been stolen, but some feel too embarrassed, he said. 

De Angelis said she had to negotiate with a motel manager to get a bike rack installed outside so that asylum seekers staying there could lock their bikes up at night. She’s allowed some asylum seekers to store these bikes in her own shed for the winter.

“A less expensive bike is actually more desirable (for donation) because it’s less theft-worthy,” she said.

Diamond-Falk can be reached through Facebook for inquiries about potential donations. He said he can usually tell from a photo how useable a bike is. De Angelis said anyone interested in donating bikes, helmets, locks, lights, reflective gear or bike pumps can contact her at

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