Sustainability | Ecotrope

Turning Scrap Bikes Into Christmas Presents

Ecotrope | Dec. 17, 2012 3:28 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:27 p.m.

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Children's bikes that have been rescued from scrap piles at the landfill in McMinnville and refurbished by a local volunteer will become presents for children in shelters this year.

Children's bikes that have been rescued from scrap piles at the landfill in McMinnville and refurbished by a local volunteer will become presents for children in shelters this year.

A program in McMinnville that rescues and restores used bikes from scrap piles will be delivering 20 bicycles to children in shelters this Christmas.

The Pedal Power Partnership, which includes the local landfill, a veteran who fixes bikes and a community service organization, has delivered 263 refurbished bikes to people need since it started in March.

It started when Amity resident Dean Williams was looking for a replacement for his granddaughter’s stolen bicycle. When he checked the recycling center at Riverbend Landfill, he found out that the bikes they get in are shredded for scrap metal.

“I told them something had to be done differently because that was unacceptable,” Williams said. “There are too many people in need, and those are perfectly good bicycles.”

Dean Williams, right, worked with Jackie Lang of Waste Management, left, to start rescuing bikes from the Riverbend Landfill's recycling center.

Dean Williams, right, worked with Jackie Lang of Waste Management, left, to start rescuing bikes from the Riverbend Landfill's recycling center.

Williams helped launch a program with Riverbend Landfill owner Waste Management to repair the bikes from the recycling center.

The company pays for replacement parts, and Williams voluntarily does the work with help from students at Amity High School. Then he hands the bikes over to Yamhill Community Action Partnership, which serves low-income, senior and disabled people in Yamhill County.

“He rebuilds them and gives them to us, and we distribute them through our local channels for people in need,” said Lee Means, CEO of YCAP.

It’s not just kids using the free bikes, Means said. It’s also adults who have been in jail, who have had their driver’s licenses suspended for drunk driving, who are escaping domestic violence and don’t have any belongings, or who have developmental disabilities.

“We originally thought the children’s bikes were what would go the fastest,” Means said, “And we were so surprised to find the number of adults that need bikes.”

YCAP runs three transitional shelters for homeless families, where people can stay for up to 6 months. During the holidays, the organization works to provide Christmas presents for the families in the shelters.

“There are a lot of children involved,” said Means. “At one point we had 22 kids in the transitional shelters at Christmas time. It’s very tight. There’s very little space for kids to play. It’s not the kind of place you would want to be with your family for Christmas, but we have a long waiting list.”

Jackie Lang of Waste Management said the bikes that come into the recycling center in McMinnville would normally be disassembled so the metal could be shredded and recycled.

“Metals recycling makes sense,” she said. “But it doesn’t make sense to disassemble a bike for metal if the bike still has some miles left on it.”

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