Tick tick tick. The year is coming to an end, so now – right this very second – is the perfect time to open a new window in your browser and make a tax-deductible, online contribution to a cause that makes the world a better place through bicycling.

You’re already supporting cycling by riding a bike, but you’ve got the power in your personal generosity to connect others — both here in New York City and in other parts of the world where having access to a bicycle can transform lives — with everything you love about two-wheeled transportation.

Here are some of my favorite cycling charities. I hope you’ll consider joining me in making a year-end gift to support the important work they do:

World Bicycle Relief – In rural Africa, a bicycle is more than transportation; it’s a game-changer, especially for young women (top photo). What I learned from WBF co-founder Leah Missbach Day at this year’s National Women’s Bicycling Summit, is that girls in many impoverished communities can’t get their required household chores done and reach far-away classrooms on time if they have to walk. Owning a bicycle helps them stay in school, achieve better grades and get onto the path to more a more independent and productive lives.

Transportation Alternatives — A wise friend remarked recently that riding a bicycle on the streets of NYC without joining Transportation Alternatives is like listening to NPR without making an annual pledge. So true! T.A. is our advocate for more bike lanes and safer, more liveable streets for all NYC citizens. Lending your support is particularly vital for the upcoming election year.

CYCLE Kids – Founded by avid cyclist and former marketing executive Julianne Idlet, this organization fights childhood obesity and  enriches the lives of children through bicycling. Its curriculum-based program for 4th and 5th graders in urban schools integrates physical activity, nutrition, learning and emotional well-being. CYCLE Kids will expand to two NYC public schools in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 2013. International women’s pro cyclist Evelyn Stevens (huge fan!), who rides for Team Specialized lululemon, recently signed on as director of outreach to help spread the CYCLE Kids message.

Recycle-a-Bicycle – Where to even begin with all the good things that this community-based bike shop and not-for-profit organization does for youth in NYC: recycling bicycles (of course!), vocational training, school and summer programs, environmental initiatives? The stats speak for themselves: In the past year, more than 1,000 RAB youth collectively refurbished 500 bicycles, pedaled 10,000 miles and burned 1,500,000 calories. RAB has also been active in Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts and their ground-breaking Youth Bike Summit is coming up on Feb. 15 – 17.

Photo: World Bicycle Relief

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