What Do You Do?

What do you do when a bike is your only transportation because you are too poor to ride a bus? What do you do when you can’t afford to maintain your transportation? What do you do, but keep doing what you do?

Lees Liquor Lounge

When nothing in life seems to work as it was intended it’s time to re-invent the wheel.

The other day I stopped to talk with a bike rider who was outside of the supermarket where we were shopping. I was admiring the old Raleigh she was unlocking thinking the vintage was English, not the newer American vintage. So I initiated the conversation based on my selfish  interest of course. This would be a great opportunity to give out my business card and introduce the Rev2 concept. Well, I was way off base. Quick as a flash it became apparent  the only thing our two Raleigh’s had in common was they both were “free” bikes. She found hers on the side of the road and mine was given to me by an acquaintance. Now, most readers on this blog know my Raleigh.

Raleigh REV2 prototype handlebar 2010

The Raleigh at the supermarket and bike rider could only be described as the less fortunate in American society.  The bike if taken to the nearest bike shop Penn Cycle for repairs, currently 50% off,  it would be a mechanics nightmare. The bike rider would be discouraged that she can’t afford the parts and repairs or a new $200 bike.  But, if the bike was taken to a place like the Sibley Bike Depot in St. Paul, she knew about SBD, where the bike would be repaired for free and parts replaced for a nominal fee it could eventually be safe to ride. The problem with either scenario she does not have the genius to do simple bike repairs and she does not have the wealth or tools wether literally or figuratively to get the bike repaired or replaced.

As we were talking I nervously did a spot point check. If you are familiar with this procedure,  it’s just taking a visual and handling of moving parts. I assured herthat I would not make any adjustments since I knew from the looks of things the Raleigh was ready for a break down. The first thing I noticed was the rear quick release skewer was half cocked and the front skewer was dangling. The front quick release had frozen into place without compressing against the fork. Apparently gravity, friction and luck were the only things keeping this wheel from falling off. As I turned to the rear wheel I decided to forego handling the skewer for fear that the wheel might go out of alignment or worse. Good thing I did because I saw the chain riding up onto the rear sprockets in an odd way. The bike rider said that this happens every time she puts the wheel on. One last check. Crank set bearings loose and no time to fiddle with the headset. My last words were take my card and check out my blog. Find online articles about bike maintenance. As I left she was placing her plastic handled bags onto the drops for her ride home. Thinking about this bike rider later I knew she would not go on the internet. If she can’t afford bike repairs the possibility was slim for home internet.


St. Peter Square 2011 Rome Italy…Some shoes are hard to fill

Riding in today to St. Paul the plan for a blog post was germinating like it does so often. Then it occurred to me the amount of poor people who can neither get free repairs or have the faintest idea of simple bike functions. Would the folks at Catholic Charities be aminable to the idea of bike rider and bike education?


1 Comment

Filed under bike advocacy

One response to “What Do You Do?

  1. Brian Shingledecker

    This post made me think of a similar nonprofit organization in Philly that you may be interested in learning more about: http://neighborhoodbikeworks.org/. And, to let you know that I’ve been reading your blog for a while now… keep up the good work!

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