Sustainable Transportation Tidbits
A Yellow Bike Project update
Austin's Yellow Bike Project is a local, all-volunteer nonprofit whose name refers to its semiregular release of recycled, yellow-painted bicycles, free to ride but not to keep. The group's mission these days, however, focuses more on operating open-to-the-public community bike-repair shops, where one can trade volunteer hours for free bike-repair schooling in a top-notch facility. Longtime volunteer Pete Wall updated members of the city's Street Smarts Task Force recently on Yellow Bike happenings. YBP has a major presence on the task force and has been a strong, pragmatic voice for transportation bicyclists. Based on a recent survey, Wall said, people ages 16-70 are literally coming from all over Austin to YBP's main shop on East 51st Street. Between 500 and 600 visitors per month seek knowledge about repairing their bikes, overwhelmingly used for transportation and commuting purposes, and YBP has seen 100 to 200 new visitors each month. Most impressively, YPB also reports putting to work as many as 200 folks with community-service obligations each year, often high-schoolers with no bicycle-repair experience.
Yellow Bike has been searching for a new home since it learned last year that its main shop, an old warehouse donated by the city, would be leveled as part of the Mueller redevelopment by summer 2008. Wall reported that the city has offered YBP a parcel of land in Southeast Austin and volunteers have submitted a site plan for a new shop building, though the land's precarious situation beneath power lines has challenged volunteers' ability to get a large-enough structure approved. They're seeking assistance from those with building experience or anyone willing to help them locate prospective new sites. In the meantime, Wall said YBP is also in need of experienced bike mechanics available to volunteer in its existing shop.
In other sustainable-transportation news, YBP recently teamed up with Eastside Pedal Pushers bike shop to provide employees at the city's One Texas Center office complex with four bicycles for cruising to and from City Hall. Nadia Barrera of the city's Public Works Department had this to say on the BicycleAustin.info listserv about one of the bikes: "I beat some other employees to a meeting on 10th Street on the bike. We were in the elevator together, going to the same place at the same time. We left OTC, and I got there on the bike just as they were parking their big city truck. It felt great!"
Further expanding its civic presence, YBP will have a prominent role in this weekend's sixth annual East Austin Studio Tour, showcasing the work of more than 200 artists at more than 100 studios in Central East Austin. This year's EAST is bike-themed, and guests are encouraged to travel the short distances between studios by bicycle. On Saturday at 10am, Yellow Bike will hold its largest-ever release of refurbished, yellow-hued cycles at Cafe Mundi, 1704 E. Fifth, making an estimated 100 bikes available for the taking. YBP volunteers will also man a free tune-up station to help less mechanically savvy bike-owners make minor adjustments and fix flat tires.
For more info, see www.austinyellowbike.org.