Monday, September 27, 2010

Righteous Lemonade

The Durango Cyclery, longtime and local Durango bike shop, is a driving force behind a great community project called Bicycle Lemonade. They are dedicated to building community and protecting our planet by keeping bicycles out of landfills and encouraging more people to ride them more often. By restoring otherwise abandoned bicycles for a relatively low cost and teaching people how to maintain and repair them, they foster a cleaner, more active and more interactive community. So support them when you can!

From the Durango Herald - September 27, 2010

The local group Bicycle Lemonade spent Sunday afternoon doing what it does best: fixing up and giving away recycled bikes to people who need them, this time to the 22 residents at the Durango Community Shelter.

Rachel Bauske, project manager for the shelter, said about 80 percent of the shelter's residents arrive with no form of transportation. The shelter has a handful of bicycles it loans, though several have fallen into disrepair.

"Durango Transit will help us out by giving us a bus pass, but that's just a bus pass for one person when we have up to 35 people staying here," Bauske said. "Although we work closely with community partners, getting bikes is crucial for our residents because that may be their only means of transportation at times."

Wanting to help, Bicycle Lemonade volunteer Russell Zimmermann approached Bauske about holding an event at the shelter to not only give away bikes but also repair the shelter's current bicycle fleet. Bauske agreed.

On Sunday morning, the all-volunteer Bicycle Lemonade crew arrived at the shelter with two pickup loads of bicycles and the parts and tools needed to make them work. Residents at the shelter each picked out a bike and then assisted in repairing it.

"We try to meet the person who's the prospective new owner of the bicycle before we start fixing it and make them part of the process," Zimmermann said. "Even if they're not a bike mechanic, maybe they can learn to patch a tube or oil a chain properly or something like that."

Bicycle Lemonade volunteer Jon Bailey said the work new bike owners put into their bikes makes them inherently more valuable.

"The value is created through the sweat equity that you put into it," he said. "This way, you're putting in time and learning something, and you're pumped."

The group's primary purpose is to rescue bikes from ending up in landfills. Donated bikes are fixed and given away, not sold. Money has been completely removed from the equation.

"The only way this happens is the community donates their bikes, donates the space, donates the time and then donates the bikes back to the community," Bailey said.

The group currently operates via booths set up at local events with information about dates and times spread primarily by word of mouth. Bicycle Lemonade is looking for someone who will donate space it can use as a base of operations, where someone who needs a bike can get one.

"Right now, bikes aren't an issue for us, it's having a workable spot to invite the public so we don't have to go somewhere and set up every time," Bailey said.


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