• Fri March 05 2010
  • Posted Mar 5, 2010
Ames, IA We've had a record winter of snow, ice and cold this winter. Imagine biking around in it to collect people's recycling. That's exactly what a group in Ames has been doing. The program is called Cycles. You may have noticed Colleen Walsh pedaling around Ames. She says with a trailer connected to a bike, you get a few looks. She says, "Usually they just roll their eyes if they're in a car, wonder what we're doing." What they're doing is picking up people's recycling. Seven riders work for Cycles. It's a curbside recycling program. The city of Ames doesn't have a city-wide service, so manager Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen says the bikers are in demand. She says they have about 200 customers. "And it keeps growing." She says the routes are 10 to 15 miles long. It takes about four hours, six if the weather is bad. She says, "If the weather is really nasty we have a pick up at our disposal that we can use, but we try to keep it all by bicycle, just kind of struggle through the inclement weather." The cart holds 12 bins. When the bins are full, the cyclists are pulling about 300 pounds. Beatty-Hansen says, "The real joy for me is exercise and being able to do something I feel good about." Beatty-Hansen says she feels good about her job because she says it's helping the environment. The group says they've pedaled more than 3,000 miles, recycled 27,000 tons of material and saved more than 180 gallons of gasoline since September. Instead, they use food for fuel. Beatty-Hansen says, "Everybody's got something different. I try to eat a good breakfast before I go and maybe a cheese stick along the way keeps me going." The riders drop the materials off at the redemption center on the east side of town. The service costs $8 for each bin, and they collect on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

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