Saturday, December 18, 2010

The 12 6 Days Of Festivus, Part 4

It has suddenly dawned on me that perhaps twelve straight days of "BUY STUFF!" might not be the best use of my bloggy pulpit (it's like a bully pulpit except that no one actually pays attention to you when you're on it). So, for Day 4, I'd like to talk about some holiday ideas that even Charlie Brown himself might not brand with a "good grief!" 

First up, maybe you could donate to a local bicycle collective and/or co-op in the name of your bike-nerd friend and/or relation. They might even give you a card to present to your cyclist a la George Costanza and the Human Fund. Seeing as how this is usually a Des Moines-centric blog, I'll kick in a little plug here for the Des Moines Bike Collective. Which reminds me, I need to put my money where my blog is and bring a box o'parts down there sometime soon... 

I look at giving to a co-op/collective as a little gift for everybody who rides a bike. After all, their mission is usually to get more bikes fixed up and into the hands of more people. More people on more bikes makes bikes seem more normal, thus life gets just a little bit better for everyone who has to play in traffic on two wheels. Our own collective has been instrumental in the new Des Moines B-cycle bike sharing program, regional trail maps, and valet bike parking at a variety of downtown events... all things that are dragging the city (sometimes kicking and screaming) toward more overall bike-friendliness.

If you don't have a collective or co-op in your neck of the woods, you can still get into the bikey charitable spirit if you just have a few bucks and some basic wrenching skills. Scavenge up some inexpensive kids' bikes at garage sales, Goodwill, or what have you, get them into good running condition with those basic wrenching skills, and pass them on to local charities that provide gifts for kids who would otherwise go without. Voila, you've just warmed the frigid cockles of your heart and possibly planted the seed for a future cyclist. The bikes don't have to be that wonderful or expensive to begin with -- think back to what you probably started riding on as a kid. They just need to be functional and safe*. See if your local bike shop will cut you a deal on some inexpensive kids' helmets and/or blinkie lights to go with the bikes while you're at it.

Don't have the bucks to buy the bikes in the first place? Call up those "gifts for kids" charities and offer to tune up any bikes they receive. Most probably don't have a bike nerd on staff and would be thrilled to have someone make their bikes safer. I know that when word got out one year that (like a chimpanzee) I could use basic tools, my velo-palace was overrun with all manner of Huffies and Magnas and Roadmasters (oh my!) Again, don't apply your most rigorous standards of snobbishness... just make the things go (and stop!) and make them safe*. For the cost of only your time, you get that cockle-warming, future-cyclist-creating vibe again.

That's my public service announcement, anyway. I'll be my usual crass and cantankerous self tomorrow, lest anyone accuse me of being quasi-human...

*Sometimes, you'll get one that just can't be made safe, no matter what you do. Best you can do is salvage any usable parts for the next one. Just beware -- the idea of "parts donor" bikes sounds great at first... until they've taken over your entire garage...

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