• Thu April 24 2008
  • Posted Apr 24, 2008
by: Adam Burke Check out the source for Videos! Unless you are one of the hearty and fearless year-round bicyclists, now is the time to clean up your ten-speed, balloon-tire cruiser, mountain bike, or other two-wheeled people-powered vehicle and hit the trail and/or pavement. No bike to refurbish? Have no fear! Bikes and bicyclists come in all colors and shapes (and fitness levels). Today's pedalers are not only riding for the fun of it. Pedaling commuters can skip the spin class at the fitness gym when they've burned calories on the way to and from work. As gas prices continue to climb, people-powered transportation becomes increasingly enticing. The Iowa City Bike Library has been fixing and distributing bikes for several years. The volunteer-run organization often sells out of their showroom stock each Saturday morning. Last week was no exception, over ten people waited up to a half-hour in line for the chance to find a bike that fit, take a test spin, and lay down a small deposit ($30-$60). All of the bikes at the ICBL are pre-owned and a deposit is required because, according to volunteer Jen Bedet, "if you put some value on a bike, people will take better care of them." The deposit is refundable if the bike is returned in good condition before six months or riders can keep the bike and forfeit the deposit. Bedet started volunteering at the library three years ago and has gained considerable skill in bike repair and technical knowledge. She said she learned first how to fix a flat and can now tear down a hub, clean and rebuild it. Calling Kim West of Des Moines a bike enthusiast would be putting it lightly. The biker and blogger has a radio show dedicated to discussing bicycles and has been cycling for over fifty years. He bad-mouthed free bike programs that began in Amsterdam in the 1960s and released spray-painted bikes throughout the city. Similar programs have been tried in other cities around the world, often with poor results. "I prefer the notion that bikes have value, have worth, and are worthy of use and reuse, but NOT being subjected to denigration by rattle-can paint schemes. It's like covering the pieta with happy face stickers. That's why the motto -- the theme -- of the Des Moines Bike Kollective is 'An old bike is a good friend.' You would NEVER paint an old friend yellow and leave them out for anyone to use and abuse." He set up the DMBK in downtown Des Moines and wants to make it much more than Iowa City's library. West is building a bike hang-out and has already secured a stereo system with a turntable and donated LP records for the downtown spot. "Since we specialize in old bikes, I figured it only correct that we play only vinyl. Kids gotta learn somewhere, eh? And the albums we have are VERY cool, too," he explained. "Bikies need a place to hang out, to create a place where a bike culture can flourish, and the Kollective intends to provide that agar. This is not going to be a shiny titanium and carbon fiber bike shop. It's where folks can gather and share stories, feel at home, and help new people ride old bikes." He has planned workshops for the homeless and under-housed as well as family workshops so that Mom, Dad, Sis, and little brother can all maintain their chain, tires, and bike frame. West also wants to start bike clubs in local schools and has planned some community bike rides around the city. "Bikes are not just toys, but a lifestyle that promotes cheap, healthy fun. But they ARE toys too, and we want everyone to know how to enjoy and appreciate that." West was interviewed recently for KCCI as the DMBK got cleaned up and ready for "bikies." The Kollective is being funded by the sale of t-shirts available from T-Shirt Graphix at 3629 Beaver Avenue in Des Moines. Bicycle donations at both community programs are welcome. If you've got a bike gathering dust and/or rust, bring your old two-wheeler in and let the DMBK or the ICBL refurbish them and find your old friend a new home. Happy riding! Final note: Don't wait for Bike to Work Week to get in gear! BTWW is May 10-16 across the country and many bike events are planned all over the state. Community bike programs have recently sprouted in several cities, including an ambitious Des Moines Bike Kollective set to open this week.

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