January 27, 2008

We Had A Baby, It's A Bike

I heard someone say awhile ago that a woman feels like a mother when she becomes pregnant. And a man feels like a father when he sees his child for the first time.

I have been toying with the idea of starting a community bike project in the Phoenix area for awhile. A program where, for a brief application, a copper-painted bike and a bike lock become yours. I sort of have crazy ideas like this all the time, and it's only every once in awhile that they even begin to gain a little traction.

About a month ago, my friend Liana said she might have a connection to a few busted up bicycles. The bikes she was talking about are abandoned in the desert by people traveling further North after tires go flat or chains break. Then volunteers working around the Organ Pipe National Monument pick them up and dispose of them. I was excited at the prospect of getting a couple of worn out bikes in need of a little TLC, but it was also Christmas so I was also excited about seven (7) step bars, caramel rolls, and chocolate-chip cookies.

Weeks passed, and ideas were tossed around. Then yesterday, I got a call from Liana. "Hey Sam, we're in Buckeye about forty-five (45) minutes away. We got those bikes for you." I got so excited, my water almost broke. Just a little under an hour later, I had thirty-five (35) bicycles in my backyard.

My friend's comments about parenthood came back to me. I was excited about this bike project for months, but it didn't feel real until I saw all those rusted chains and busted spokes. And now that they are there, I am so proud.

But don't worry, Mom. I'll give you a little bit more warning before the real kids start coming...

"To be a successful father, there's absolutely one rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years."
Ernest Hemingway

A Post Script: If you would like to help, there is a lot of opportunity. Right now, we are in the process of stripping the frames and putting together an inventory of the parts we have. After that, we'll start putting them back together in working conditions. If you want to help, but don't have mechanical gifts, financial gifts will go a long way. If this interests you, I can provide you with a charitable tax-id number. For more information on successful bike projects around the country, here are some links to the Austin Yellow Bike Project, BICAS in Tucson, The Santa Cruz Bike Church, and Plan B in New Orleans.


Brandon K. Baker said...

Great idea Sam. That's awesome that 35 bikes basically fell into your lap. Any fixies in there? ;)

Anonymous said...

The title of this post reminded me of that collect call commercial where the guy calls his parents to tell them about the baby..."Collect call from wehaddababyitsaboy." Ha ha.

I don't know a ton about fixing bikes but i'm very decent with tools and can figure a lot out on my own/learn fast. Let me know if you need some help. I'd definitely be down to add some elbow grease.

Samuel Isaac Richard said...

Brandon - No fixies... But we are planning to make all of the bikes single gears regardless of how many gears they came in with. The hope is that this will help out with maintenance worries and reduce the number of parts we have to carry.

Adam - That is exactly what I had in mind when I wrote the title. I'm glad you caught it. I tried finding the commercial on YouTube, but to no avail. And your offer is greatly appreciated. I will let you know when things start to pick up. Thanks!

Jesse Allen said...

It’s awesome to hear about people doing stuff like this. It’s even more awesome when it’s people you know doing it. I’d love to hear more about this community bike project as it matures.

Glynnjamin said...

Ok so I know I'm late to the party on this but I'm happy to help. My wife and I have been buying/fixing/selling bikes for a year or so now in downtown so I think I know what I'm doing.

Not too good with the painting however. Let me know if I can help.