NEW YORK–When former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg oversaw the creation of thousands of dedicated bicycle lanes on traffic-clogged streets, many locals were astonished (and angry). But many of those nay-sayers have surprised themselves by discovering how easy–and healthy, and better for the environment—it is to ride a bike to work or to meet with friends.
But what do you do with your bike when you’re done with it? Leave it by the side of the road to be picked up as trash and dumped in parts unknown?
Why not recycle it instead?
One of those applauding the city’s bike-lane initiative was Karen Overton, 51, founder of New York City’s Recycle-a-Bicycle (RAB). “Don’t throw your bike out!” she says with a laugh. “RAB will take it, no matter what condition it’s in.”
This is a great idea. We have a lot of bicycle parts reuse places in Portland. It makes it much cheaper to get or fix or adapt your bike. I'm over 50 and it's much easier to get your workout if you can make it a bit more ergonomic. I wish other cities would adopt this too.
Recycling bikes is not a new concept and has a pretty deep history that spans the world. what is impressive is that a ny mayor got on board with a fatastic idea, and is applaudable. I founded and operated a similar bike coop between 2008 and 2010 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. We took in old beaters, garage dusters, dump bikes, kids rusty princess bikes and re used them over and over. the bikes that were mostly re-rideable we fixed up and sold dirt cheap or gave away. the bikes that were walmart junkers and way past their prime we stripped of parts for other bikes and either 1. recycled the frame (aluminum mostly) or 2. cut up the steel frames to make art bikes, tall bikes, freak bikes, choppers, parade bikes, etc you name it. we fixed up a gang of kids bikes, found a donation of helmets and organized a bicycle safety program for kids and then gave the bikes away in the end. We took old popped tubes and made belts, bags, and other handmade clothes/items.
We opened a Community Bike Shop (also named ReCycles Bike Coop, Little Rock, Arkansas, associated with the Arkansas Sustainability Network, which i also co-founded). The bike shop had 5 open stands equipped with all the tools, books, and volunteers you needed to learn how do everything from change your own tire to strip and rebuild your bike.
My greatest experience at the Coop was the connection i made with real super great people. When i opened it, i thought it could or would turn into a punk hang out, but none of the local punks really participated and what happened was that random bike lovers magnatized themselves to the shop creating an eclectic group of bike enthusiasts that eventually turned into really solid friendships. Military vetrans, high school seniors, junior high school dropouts (whose choice was come work on their dmx bikes OR join a local gang), eco-peeps, tattoo shop kids, fixie kids, racers, mnt bikers. it was fun!
and the best best BEST part, it was SO EASY TO ORGANIZE.
I love bikes, but im not a mechanic. I am organized, but also not a professional. Finding bikes is easy, fixing them is fun. and i HIGHLY encourage anyone with some extra space and a love for bikes to start their own community project.
Most major towns have great example projects, the best by far i have found in Tuscon. But New Orleans, Montreal, Nashville, and many other towns have their own projects. Sometimes you have to dig a bit to find them because they are run by punks, but dont fear the mohawks. Most Coops ive found to be very open to all sorts of volunteers and interested parties.