Cycle Recycle giving away bikes, get residents pedaling through Columbia

Friday, April 30, 2010 | 11:40 a.m. CDT; updated 4:52 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 30, 2010

COLUMBIA — PedNet has some bikes on its hands. As part of Bike, Walk & Wheel Week, the Cycle Recycle program is giving away bikes Sunday for the ninth year.

Cycle Recycle started in 2001 by Eduardo Crespi, director and founder of Centro Latino. He conjured up this idea to find ways to get affordable bikes for low income people.

PedNet Director of Communications Michelle Windmoeller said they are doing things a little differently this year. Line vouchers will be handed out at 9 a.m. and then bikes will be given out at noon. This is to avoid a problem from past years, of people standing in line for hours and not receiving a bike.

These bikes are donated by whoever feels like giving them up. Windmoeller said that bike donations have been down recently. The last Cycle Recycle was held in October.

"We started collecting the day after the last one ended," Windmoeller said.

The program will take just about any bike, but program assistant Larry Simonson and Windmoeller both said there have been a couple of bikes that came in on their death beds.

"Sometimes it is that this bike is too far gone," Simonson said.

If a bike comes in beyond repair, it is usually stripped for parts to fix other bikes.

"They are recycled in a different kind of way," Windmoeller said.

Simonson helped coordinate volunteers to help fix the bikes to make them fit for riding. Volunteers have been steadily working Thursday nights since January and will be meeting again Sunday morning for last minute tune-ups.

Bikes are given away on a first-come, first-served basis, one bike per person. Windmoeller said the goal is to give bikes to those who can't afford to have cars and need other forms of transportation, but there is no official screening process.

"People need transportation options," Windmoeller said. "Some people can't afford to drive a car. We want to get people where they need to go."

It isn't just an adult affair either, children can get pedaling on a new bike Sunday, too.

"It's a really fun thing when kids come to get a bike," Windmoeller said, "The smiles on their faces are just so fun."

This is the last Cycle Recycle that will operate in this manner. A new program, "Create a Commuter," will be a long-term bike program to educate people how to be a good commuter. The program will seek to get those interested on higher quality bikes and give them bike safety and mechanics training.

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