You’ve probably noticed more cyclists on the road and not just because of the nice weather. This is Bike to Work Week, and one group is trying to change the way people get around town, two wheels at a time.
You could say Joe Ayers is a bike doctor of sorts. He says, “I enjoy bringing the old bikes back to life.” The avid cyclist volunteers at the Des Moines Bicycle Collective.
The group refurbishes donated bikes that are given to people in need or sold at the shop on Grand Avenue downtown. Shop Manager Brad Overholser says, “We’re more like a community service for people who don’t want to spend $700 on a bike because they’re not sure they’re going to get into it.”
People donated 1,000 bikes to the group last year. Half were fixed up and sold. Four hundred were scrapped and things like aluminum and tires were recycled. Des Moines Bicycle Collective Chair Carl Voss says very little goes to the landfill. He says, “Repair beats recycling. A bike is one of the few things you can own and actually repair, or have someone else repair. If you take care of a bike, it will last for decades.”
The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Metro Waste Authority, and Centers for Sustainable Communities honored The Des Moines Bicycle Collective for its environmental impact at a luncheon Wednesday. The award is for keeping the bikes out of the landfill and promoting a pollution free way of getting around. Voss says, “It’s also about teaching people about being confident bike commuters, so they’re not driving their car.”
Voss says the group offers classes, community events and valet services at places like the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market. He says, “We park a lot of bikes. For example, the first Saturday for the Farmers’ Market 338 people biked down to the Farmers’ Market.”
As for the volunteers, they can earn a bike through their work at the shop. Ayers says he does it for the fun. He says, “It’s a good time to see their excitement. They take it for a test drive and then come back, they really like that bike and that’s the bike for them.”
Bikes for sale start at $40. The Des Moines Bicycle Collective opened the shop on Grand Avenue in 2008. But, organizers say the need has grown. They’re looking for a bigger location in a bike friendly area.