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Tech utilizing leftover bikes

April 24, 2010
By Stacey Kukkonen, DMG Writer

HOUGHTON - Every year, anywhere from a handful to a couple dozen bicycles are left on Michigan Technological University's campus.

Now, Tech's Department of Public Safety and Police Services, with the help of the The Bike Shop in Houghton and the Copper Country Cycling Club, plans to put many of the leftover bikes into use.

The reasons these abandonments could range from graduation and moving away or from getting new bikes and simply forgetting about them.

"None of these bikes are your high-end, $2,500 bikes," DPSPS Chief Daniel Bennett, said. "They are a lot of the bikes you get at Walmart."

Most of the bicycles come from big box retailers but some can be salvaged for parts to fix bikes in better condition.

"When we started this, none of them were really in working condition," Bennett said.

That's what led to the partnership with the Copper Country Cycling Club and The Bike Shop. Plans are in the making to turn some of the abandoned bikes back into modes of transportation and to donate the bikes to charity.

"The people who are in charge of our property here at the university are looking into different charities (such as) the Good Will Farm and The Salvation Army, so it's up to the university," he said.

The object is to find a way to donate the bikes in the near future.

But right now, the goal is to get the bikes into working order.

"Some of them were run over, some were rusted shut, some, the hubs are shot," he said.

To buy new parts for the bike may cost more than a bike brand new, Bennett said.

Caleb Wendel and Steve Vizanko, who co-own The Bike Shop, said they are helping with the bikes because it's a fun project.

"After seeing all of them, we see that most are cheap but are still functional," Wendel said.

The owners, in turn, volunteered to help fix the bikes so they become completely functional again and can be given to charity.

"We were asked help fix the bikes and to make then safer to ride," he said.

By using parts from bicycles that are obsolete, Wendel said they have been able to put about a dozen bikes back into commission.

"It's community service," Wendel said of helping out. "Plus, it's good to see people out on bikes."

Michigan Tech has a bike registration program in place on campus where students are asked to register the bikes they will park on campus throughout the year.

"We try to get students to register their bikes so if we find a bike and it's been registered with us, we can find the owner," Bennett said.

After a year and no one has claimed the bike, the plan is to fix and donate them.

Stacey Kukkonen can be reached



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