GetAbout Columbia gives away 100 free bicycles

Sunday, May 4, 2008 | 10:47 p.m. CDT; updated 2:48 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
A Columbia firefighter applies an identification sticker to a young girl's newly acquired refurbished bicycle, which she received for free at the Cycle Recycle event at the Boone County Health Department building today. Bicycle mechanics were also on site to adjust the refurbished bicycles.

COLUMBIA — Cynder Jones really needed a new bike.

Jones, a 35-year-old Columbia resident, bikes to work every day and said she wasn’t about to risk not getting one of the 100 refurbished bikes at the 7th annual Cycle Recycle today, a bike giveaway sponsored by Get About Columbia.

“I got here at 7:45 this morning,” Jones said. “My son got one last year. But this year it’s mama’s turn!”

Jones waited in line all morning for the giveaway at the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, which started at 12:30 p.m. As part of Bike, Walk and Wheel Week, anyone in the community could come get a voucher for a free refurbished bike. About 70 people were turned away, said Robert Johnson, education coordinator for GetAbout Columbia.

There was no criteria to receive a bike, but most recipients were really in need, Johnson said.

“We don’t check income level, but a lot of the people are lower income,” Johnson said. “They are certainly the ones who are targeted. That’s why we have it here at the heath department.”

The 100 bikes given away were donated by people in the community, Johnson said. Walt’s Bicycle Fitness and Wilderness Company then sold any needed parts to the organization at cost.

“We’ll put on new chains or replace broken pedals, but most of the time the bikes are still pretty nice,” Johnson said.

Helmets were donated by various organizations, and Columbia Fire Department personnel were on hand to register all of the bikes.

Organizers began handing out bike vouchers at 12:30 p.m. While waiting for the giveaway to start at 2 p.m., those with vouchers could get a free helmet and register for Bike, Walk and Wheel Week. Registering meant participants agreed to include more physical activity in their routine this week, Johnson said.

Half-way down the line, Gene Varner, who lives in the Sturgeon area, waited with his grandsons, Austin, 8, and Andy, 10.

“They’re both outgrowing their current bikes,” Gene Varner said. “They love using them to play around the house.”

The boys got in line with their mother around 11 a.m., and Gene Varner took over at noon when she had to leave for work.

“I already have a bike, but the chain broke,” Austin Varner said.

After getting their new bikes adjusted, Austin and Andy Varner tested them out with the other kids in the Health Department parking lot.

Malcolm Cunningham, 38, a Columbia resident and Jones’ boyfriend, was there at 2 p.m. to pick up Jones’ bike. Jones used her hours of wait time this morning to study for finals. She is a student at Moberly Area Community College.

“Cynder had to go to work, but we got her bike,” Cunningham said. “It’s not the one she had picked out, but this is so much better than the one she has. She’ll be happy.”

GetAbout Columbia accepts gently used bikes year-round at its office at 101 N. Seventh St.

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