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Triangle nonprofit gets old bikes rolling again

Posted July 21, 2008
Updated October 19, 2011

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— High gas prices are fueling interest in a unique Triangle bicycle program. ReCYCLEry takes old bikes and makes them new again.

The not-for-profit organization's mission is to encourage bike use as a regular mode of transportation.

"I want to stop waiting behind cars. I would rather have a two-wheeled, social community,” said ReCYCLEry director Chris Richmond.

The volunteers learn how to fix the bikes, which are then used for the Blue Urban Bike Program. Members pay a yearly fee to use the bikes that are stationed in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

Volunteers who put in 10 to 20 hours of service can even get a free bike.

"It's pretty fun and you are learning a lot. ...It definitely seemed worth it for a free bike," volunteer Denise Whalen said of the program.

The old bikes and the program are becoming increasingly popular as gas prices rise. The number of volunteers has doubled since last year.

The program helps by “supplying bikes for people who may not be able to afford them, because it's expensive to buy a new bike these days,” volunteer Rhonda Coleman said.

The ReCYCLEry gives away about 100 bicycles a year. All of the bikes are donated.


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  • Rob E. Jul 22, 2008

    Matthew, I think legal issues involving bicycles on the road is a worthwhile topic, but I think you're seeing some references to bicycle lawlessness in this story that I just don't see. It sounds very much to me like this person is not saying, "I want to break the rules." but rather, "I wish there were more bicycles."

  • Karmageddon Jul 22, 2008

    "I want to stop waiting behind cars"................that's the attitude most bicyclers take. How many do you actually see waiting in line with the cars as opposed to the ones who pass on the sides or in between lanes? How many stop at red lights as opposed to pedaling straight through? Yes there are some that obey the rules but there a lot more who think the rules don't apply to them.

  • Rob E. Jul 22, 2008

    That's an odd interpretation, Matthew. Sounds like he'd like to see more bikes and less cars on the road. There's no rule against that, and I see nothing to indicate that he's not following the rules of the road. I can't figure what rule he'd be breaking by waiting behind a car.

  • Karmageddon Jul 22, 2008

    "I want to stop waiting behind cars" What does he mean by that? Just what we need.....more people on bicycles who think that the rules don't apply to them.

  • Rob E. Jul 22, 2008

    TheAdmiral, even if your estimate on the cost of getting a 2nd hand bike running was accurate, $100 for a functioning bicycle would be a great deal, especially when you consider that a quality, 2nd hand bicycle may be much more reliable than a newer, low-end, cheaply made bicycle. It's not as if $100 plus what you would get at the scrap yard (which would be what? I can't imagine it would be much) would buy you an equivalent bicycle. But one of the advantages of the bicycle recycling/co-op organizations is that by collecting many used bikes, you often have access to all the parts you need to come away with a functioning bicycle. Seats often hold up fine. Tires can vary depending on how old the bike is and how it was stored, and sometimes the tires are salvageable on a bike that is otherwise beyond repair. Similarly with chains, some become rusted beyond use, but many become completely serviceable with a little cleaning and a little oil.

  • Rob E. Jul 22, 2008

    I don't think moving towards bicycles is a move backwards. Many cities in Europe and some in the U.S. have found that bicycles can not only ease fuel demands, but traffic congestion as well, not to mention some of the health benefits of getting the populace moving under their own steam. I'm all for alternative fuels, but an alternative way to keep our cars running does not deal with traffic congestion, and until we see these alternative fuels in action, we can't really judge them against bicycles and cars in terms of cost and environmental impact. So absolutely yes to alternative fuels, but that may well be in addition to, rather than instead of, alternative transportation. I would consider fewer cars and more bicycles on the roads to be a step forward, not backward.

  • TheAdmiral Jul 22, 2008

    Ummmm... I don't want to pop any bodys bubble, but it costs on average (seat, tires, chains) around $100 to re-do a bike.

    I think reCYCLEry should take the bikes down to the Raleigh Metal Yard and get cash for the bikes and buy new.

  • f6rider Jul 22, 2008

    Maybe we can buy up some of China's old bikes now since they are moving up to driving cars :) The good old US is moving backwards in stead of moving forward. We had better get with the program and speed up the development for alternate fuel methods for our cars!

  • Rob E. Jul 22, 2008

    Deciding which organization is "better" is probably less important than pointing out that there are similar organizations in the area. Seems like their basic goals are the same, and the biggest difference is location. I does seem unhelpful to refer to ReCYCLEry as "a unique Triangle bicycle program" when 1304 Bikes and the Durham Bike Co-op have similar objectives. Certainly if ReCYCLEry is a useful service for people in and around Carrboro, it would be helpful to point out to any readers who might be interested that there are similar programs through out the Triangle which may be more convenient to them, particularly if they are in need of transportation.

  • APPMAN Jul 22, 2008

    WRAL and the N&O have no clue as to how to do real reporting for the city of Raleigh.