Saturday, January 2, 2010

Neighborhood Bike Share

Our latest contribution is in! On New Year's Day no less. I love this story from Travis who blogs about bikes and family (great combo, I think). A bike with history for a whole neighborhood. The story is opportune as we just put the first bicycle, that Cameron, Úna and Declan all learned to ride on, out on the corner on Christmas day for someone to pick up and give to a child who needed it. I will never know where it went, but I can think of it the way this little blue bike has lived out its life- being loved by children all over the neighborhood : )

My eldest son, Kael, found the next owner for the little blue neighborhood bike—Nick and his son, Cale. And as it turns out, we know Nick although we did not know it. His wife knows us through school and being that our sons have similar names, the hook-up was inevitable. Have you noticed how often people in Portland mention the small world thing?

My sons were down the street at a friend’s house helping with what Kael calls a “free yard sale”. This is when you have items out on your median strip for anyone to grab for free. Nick stopped to ask if there were any small bikes. This is when my son spoke up.

“Sorry, there are no small bikes here, but I have one at home that you can have.” So up the street they went. This is when I got involved. I met Nick and he told me that his son is ready to move on up to a big bike with training wheels, giving up his tricycle.

Nick, you came to the right place and I am pleased that my generous son was around at the right time. You see, we were looking for the next owner of this little blue bike. This bike has had several users.

Forrest was the first user. He lives two houses down from us. He is the patriarch of the neighborhood boys and is going into 9th grade this year at Grant HS and will commute to school by bike. His bike is not blue, nor is it little, but his everyday use of bikes is likely connected to that little blue bike. Forrest learned to ride two-wheeled style on this bike, on a hill, in Nehalem Bay State Park.

From here the bike went to Palmer across the street, the eldest son of that family. Palmer tore around the bike and would ride up the drive, and then down the steps. Over and over.

Then back across the street to Mason, Forrest’s younger brother. At age four, Mason insisted that he was ready to ride this bike without training wheels. With his brother’s encouraging words as he ran beside him, “He’s riding! Mom! He’s riding”, Mason rode the bike off.

Next, the bike came to us and we learn of its history. Our oldest son, Kael, was especially fond of catching what he believed to be huge amounts of air off a bike jump.

Bennett, Palmer’s younger brother, gets it next so across the street it goes. Bennett takes good care of the bike and rides it strong, with intent.

Back to us. Soren’s turn. He likes the training wheels and even though he has the skill, he is reluctant to give them up. In the fall of that year, I take the training wheels off and he quickly takes to two-wheel motion.

Now, the bike has the unique situation of staying with us for two children. Asa, our youngest, and the last user in our family, rides the bike. The original training wheels have flat spots by this point so my father gets new ones. Less than a month ago, Asa, age 4, rides off without training wheels. His oldest brother, Kael, taught him one Saturday morning.

And now Cale. You are the 8th user of which I know.

And the great thing, the topper, the twist to this tale, is that this bike came from the Community Cycle Center, a neighborhood bike shop who, among many other things, refurbishes bikes and sells them at a low cost to increase the access people have to the benefits of bikes. Who knows how many users your bike truly had, Cale.

So Cale, newest user of the neighborhood blue bike, enjoy and many happy hours biking around. And Nick, when the bike is handed down through your sons and is no longer of use, pass it on.

It would be great to think that this bike continues to bring youthful freedom.


  1. Nice story! Your post reminded me of a "The Little Red Bike" in Bicycling magazine some time in the last year or two. They traced the experiences of a group of neighborhood kids with another bike that was passed around.,6610,s1-3-12-15218-1,00.html

  2. reduce, reuse, recycle a bike. i love it. so community oriented. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing my small bit of life, CYLRAB. Cheers.

  4. Travis- thanks for sending it to us! we love, love, love the bits and pieces people send in. Each story shows just how much we all have in common and how much "bicycle culture" there really is out in the world.

  5. Our 4 year old used one of these for a week then moved on to a pedal bike, the same happened with one of our kids pretty much, and another one didn't want to change. Interesting how different kids are.
    Good work with the larger version. We recently suggested doing this on a full size bike to an adult acquaintance who didn't know how to ride. Hasn’t tried it yet. Pads and padding are never a bad idea. You can always find a use for them again if they learn to ride a unicycle!
    Thanks for the nice note.

  6. I'd like to buy a new road bike, but I can't imagine ever spending good money on something so god-awful ugly—even it it can do it all. I recently flipped through Bicycling's buyer's guide and wondered: does anyone make a road bike that you wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen on?