Monday, September 27, 2010

Kids Bike Donation Part One

IBC has another couple kids bike donations coming up. Once again we'll be working in conjunction with Nicole Freedman, The Boston Housing Authority, and Mayor Menino's Boston Bikes. The first step in the process this time around was to do a complete inventory of trade in bikes to see what we had available for donation. As the trade in bikes come in over the course of the year, the bikes don't — how can I put this lightly? — get put away on any particular sort of order. They get put in piles, huge piles. And they become entangled, horribly entangled. Bars through spokes and pedals through frames and training wheels through everything else. I hate training wheels. They do nothing to teach a child to ride properly, all they do is allow the child to pedal as fast as they want with no eye toward steering or balance. It's like teaching a teenager to drive by having them jam down the gas pedal while ignoring the steering wheel. That, and they are a terrible tangling and tripping hazard.

Speaking of hazards: during a kids bike wrangling session in the warehouse, you will smash the ever-living bejesus out of your head on one of the 2 x 4's comprising the shelves at least three times. The first time you go "I saw that comin'. Well now that I know better I should have no problem avoiding hitting my head on anymo — WHACK! AAGH! CRAP!" The first two usually occur close together and the third time usually occurs after you've let down your guard at the end of the day and you're all tired. That one's the worst, you're lurching along, hunched over like Quaisimodo, dragging two 16" wheeled bikes across the floor, and you don't quite duck quick enough or long enough and WHAM! At that point you just want to fall on the dusty floor and cry.

But when all the curses were said and all the untangling was done there were 190 bikes deemed ready for donation.

There are hundreds of kids bikes up in the IBC warehouse right now, when I go up there I feel like I'm walking into the last scene in Raiders of The Lost Ark. Sometimes I get all creeped out.

And then I see these things sitting up on the shelf and I completely lose it. I know that vampires use Thule Atlantis 1800's for travel coffins. Seriously, watch the video below:

Luckily I've got James Morrison and Peter Bradshaw up in the warehouse to keep me company a lot of the time. That's Embrocation Cycling Journal headquarters right there (below). Pretty glamorous eh? Funny, James and Peter were sitting right there, I wonder why they didn't show up in the photo? Come to think of it, I've never seen them outside when they weren't all smeared with embrocation, and they do wear a lot of sunblock. I hear they're even into night time cross races. Two skinny, veiny dudes, two travel coff— I mean Thule gotta start to wonder.

Although there are scarier things than vampires in the IBC attic, things like this this:

You stopped screaming yet? Then take a look at this:

I can't pinpoint what year the above pictured Mantis hails from. I think it should jump back into the hot tub time machine it came out of, but hey, if you're into it you should call IBC Newton and offer them something for it. Or maybe if you're a member of the Fearless Vampire Killers you could offer to exterminate the inhabitants of the warehouse in exchange for this vintage monstrosity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Alice Taylor Kids Bike Donation

September 9th 2010

International Bicycle Center's kids bike donation collaboration with Mayor Menino's Boston Bikes and the Boston Housing Authority was a huge success, delivering nearly fifty bikes and helmets to the children of the Alice Taylor development in Roxbury, MA.

On Thursday afternoon a basketball court bordering on the South West Corridor bike path was transformed into a bicycle-outfitting camp. First parents or guardians were asked to sign a waiver, then the kids were lined up and fitted expertly for helmets. After that they were ushered over to the bicycle fitting station, where they chose a girls or boys bike, with or without training wheels. Adjustments were made as needed and then the kids were sent off to the bicycle safety course to learn the rules of the road. At times the safety course was anything but safe, particularly when it reached a critical mass of about forty kids. But what better way to learn some cycling skills fast than by being thrust into a swirling free for all of brightly colored bikes being piloted by joyously screaming children? In the end they all came out alive and (virtually) unscathed.

Where did all these almost-new, shiny kids bikes come from? Well...

International Bicycle Center has a program in place that encourages customers to trade in their kids bikes within two years of the purchase date for a credit of up to 50% of the value toward a new kids bike. It's an incentive for people not to go buy a rickety-kid-maiming-machine from a department store. The byproduct of this program is that IBC ends up with hundreds of kids bikes to donate to kids who might not otherwise have bikes.

This program meshes nicely with Boston Bike Czar Nicole Freedman and Mayor Tom Menino's goal to get one thousand kids on bikes in the next few years. At this time there are plans for two more kids bike donation in late September and early October. That ought to put a dent in the one thousand bike goal.

Boston Bike Czar Nicole Freedman has quite the rapport with the kiddos

One of the truly great aspects of these bike donation days is that not only are kids getting bikes, they are also getting helmets. And when all of a sudden fifty kids in one neighborhood are riding around with helmets on, saying "the Mayor says I should always wear my helmet" it has an effect the way kids think about cycling. They realize: you ride a bike — you wear a helmet.

The safety course of death, why we wear helmets

This guy rides a bike like he was born on one

How can you not smile when you have pink steamers on your bike?

The process of learning how to ride a bike can be a great time for parents to bond with their kids. Last fall International did a bike donation at the Holland School in Dorchester, one little girl came back from summer vacation and told her teacher "Me and my dad rode bikes every day!"

The bike Czar tries her hand at being a helmet Czar

Crashing and laughing it off

IBC will be documenting the whole donation process during the next couple kids bike donations, stay tuned.