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  • Wed June 02 2004
  • Posted Jun 2, 2004
By Kristen Schorsch Iowa City Press-Citizen
A group of volunteers are planning a lending library for bicycles to provide low-income residents access to fun and affordable transportation while supporting healthy lifestyles. Adults and children, not limited to Johnson County, eventually will be able to choose from 30 to 60 used bikes to rent for six months to a year under the volunteer-run program, said Brian Loring, executive director for Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County. So far, a handful of volunteers are available to repair and staff the library, with an initial selection of about two dozen bikes. "It's just a nice way to be able to get access to a decent bike," Loring said, adding he thinks the program will draw a large number of University of Iowa students. More bikes, mainly provided by the Mayor's Youth Employment Program, also will mean less traffic congestion and offer health benefits, he said. Mayor's Youth will share bicycles that come into its bike shop from UI and city police departments, Goodwill and elsewhere. "The idea has been kind of incubating for awhile," said Aaron Mennenga, a program founder with Mayor's Youth, of the bike library. "I get so many bikes that go through here, there has got to be another way to distribute them to the community." Last year, other volunteers tried starting a similar program. People donated about 12 bikes, but the idea had some concerns, including no accountability for whomever rented the bikes and no talk about providing helmets, Loring said. Renters must deposit a fee for each bike they rent, ranging from $5 for a low quality children's bike to $30 for a higher quality adult bike, according to a statement detailing program plans. Running on a roughly $1,000 budget for supplies, the program also offers each renter a helmet and bike lock. Loring said he is not concerned about bikes being stolen because several will be bought at department stores and are not worth a large amount of money.
Assistant Assignment Editor Brian Sharp contributed to this story. How to rent a bike • When: Begins June 9. • Where: Farmer’s Market, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. • Must have form of identification. • Bikes can be checked out for six months to a year. • Must provide deposit, ranging from $5 for a low quality children’s bike to $30 for a high quality adult bike. Volunteers determine quality. • Recipients or parents must sign a waiver. • Youth might be required to watch a safety video. • Helmet use is encouraged. Helmets and bike locks are provided with rentals. • Deposits will not be returned the same day of return, allowing volunteers to assess damage. • Tire levers, tires, tubes and a tire pump are available to repair tires. Details • To donate, contact Mayor’s Youth Employment Program at 341-0060. • To volunteer, contact Brian Loring, executive director for Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, at brian-loring@ncjc.org.

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