I have 3 suggestions from things we do at Yellow Bike in Austin, Texas. Even though we have about 4000 sq ft, we have reached that same point of capacity before:

1. Earn-a-Bike program where, on completion of 12 hours of volunteer time, folks could pick a bike frame to build up and keep. Also, if you structure the 12 hours, you can use them to train volunteers up to a certain level of competence. We've seen a lot more long term volunteers and people wanting to be on the collective since we started earn-a-bike. (approx. 300-400 bikes per year)

2. Yellow bikes - we take all the shitty, department store bikes, with cheap components, that would most likely end up recycled or in the landfill and turn them into single speeds (by locking the rear derailer and removing shifters), paint them yellow and release them on the streets in batches at various events. Free to ride but not to keep. Inspired by the white bike program in Amsterdam in the 1970's. We're not trying to maintain a fleet of city bikes, simply diverting bikes from the waste stream. (approx. 200-300 bikes a year)

3. School / Kids programs - we partner with or run after school programs at multiple locations in the city, where kids learn bike maintenance and get to keep the bike they refurbish. The beauty of programs like this are that you get kids excited about bikes hopefully for the rest of their lives and grant funding for this sort of thing is very easy and kind of like money for nothing. (approx. 150-200 bikes per year)

4. We recycle metal, but frames and larger parts we divert to local folks with bike & welding skills, who then build badass custom bikes, trailers etc. Check out Austin Bike Zoo


veganboyjosh@gmail.com wrote:
i know community cycles is not the only shop on this list that has space issues, nor shortness of volunteer hours....

i'm wondering if any shops out there have some kind of "we're all filled up, we can't take any more bikes" policy.

we've got connections with our local police department, so when they sweep through the public bike racks and clean up abandoned bikes, we get them. this brings us several loads of 100-300 bikes per year. we've also got a similar hookup with the university of colorado at boulder, which is 30,000 students strong. this yeilds about the same number of bikes, but in fewer loads.

these are in addition to all our other donated bikes from individuals, smaller groups, etc.

we're already using cheaper, department store bikes, or those who are beyond repair specifically as stripper bikes, for parts, or for lessons.

we don't have a problem getting bikes to use/turnaround, as i'm guessing most of you also don't have this problem.

my question is, when do we say "sorry, we're all filled up, we can't take your bike right now"?

do any of you have some creative ways that you've solved the "we've got too many bikes and not enough space to keep them while they're waiting for a home"?

we have done some work with a couple of different groups that have sent bikes abroad, but we don't want to make this a regular part of our program, for various reasons. to date, we don't have a set policy, but we tend to only participate in those kinds of programs when we're busting at the seams, and getting rid of 300-500 bikes would help tremendously.

we've gotten in touch with our local recycling yard, who pretty much takes everything that can be recycled. i personally know that they see several bikes per week in their dumpsters, but they don't have any way to pull those out once they're in, once people dump washing machines, fridges, etc, on top of them. i'd like to see a seperate "bike dumpster" for people to drop them off, and we go and reuse them.

the problem is we're gonna need some better way to sort them and keep them until someone can get to them...

thanks for reading this far.


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