Bike Recycling One-Man-Band

Clearing bike racks of unwanted bicycles is more involved than it sounds according to Bike Program Manager and UGA student William Fox. If he’s not repairing broken bikes at the Office of Sustainability, Fox is using his own spare time to find every last discarded bike on campus.

As the linked video above mentioned, Fox is the only intern at the Office of Sustainability who does maintenance on the countless bikes found on campus. As part of his internship, Fox manages the reCYCLE program where he re-purposes abandoned bikes and gives them to applicants in need.

“When I’m restoring a bike I have to take it completely apart and put it back together because I have to get all the grit out of it and I have to put grease on everything again,” said Fox.

All the bikes collected from reCYCLE. | Photo by Nicholas Cordts.

Before Fox can get to work on fixing bikes, he gets notified by his boss and program coordinator, Jason Perry, of any old bikes that need to get impounded. Perry said that around five years ago, picking up bikes wasn’t an official job of the Office of Sustainability.

“Parking services was the default organization to deal with the problem,” said Perry.

Fox and Perry can’t just simply clip the lock on any bike that they think looks abandoned due to Georgia’s abandoned motor vehicle law. According to Fox, police have to be involved every time they clip the chain on an old bike.

“Any bike is treated the same way a car is treated if it’s locked,” said Fox. “They have the same waiting period to collect and impound as a car that’s left in the wrong spot or appears abandoned.”

The Georgia Code Title 40 on motor vehicles and traffic cites multiple situations where a vehicle is considered abandoned. These instances are listed in increments of at least 30 days before a vehicle can be impounded. Therefore, after getting police involved, Fox has to wait at least 90 days before working on the impounded bikes.

Untouched bikes due to the 90 day wait period. | Photo by Nicholas Cordts

“During those 90 days, the bike just sits still and no one touches them,” said Fox. “After 90 days, Bike Athens transfers ownership back to UGA where then I have the ability to go through the bikes and see which ones I like based on their condition.”

Bike Athens is a nonprofit organization that actually started the original bike recycling program 12 years ago. Their program is not to be confused with what Fox handles at the Office of Sustainability.

“The UGA Office of Sustainability modeled their program after ours to serve the campus specifically,” said Bike Athens executive director Tyler Dewey. “We work with social service partners in Athens-Clarke county to primarily get bikes to adults in need of transportation.”

Fox clarified that the reCYCLE program can only be utilized by UGA ID cardholders. Bike Athens is a separate entity that works to provide affordable transportation for any Athenians in need.

Bike Athens’ social media involvement with the community.

Bike Athens staff regularly engages with the Athens community via Twitter. Check out their latest involvement with charity organizations, and view pictures of their latest nonprofit projects. Their most recent Instagram postings notify their followers for the holidays. They have a growing  bicycle request list for donations to children.

written by: Nicholas Cordts

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