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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 08-03-07, 07:37 PM   #1
mike
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Helping out a car-free fellow bicyclist

I got a call from a church lady a week ago.

She knew of a family of four in need. The father works all day washing dishes and they can barely make ends meet. He saves $1.50 from each check so that the wife can take the bus to the local food bank to get free food.

I don't know why the fellow isn't on welfare. He is just trying to do it on his own with two young boys and a wife. They live in a one room rented flat.

Anyway, the only transportation the whole family has is one old 10-speed bicycle. She said that it was in need of repair and asked if I could help.

Knowing that this fellow needed wheels, I brought him a loner so he could get to work while I repaired his bike. When I met the guy, I just knew I had to do my best for him. He was clean and doing his best - just having a hard time getting past a steep part of life, but doing his best.

I asked him if he would like some side-saddle baskets. Maybe not cool, but totally functional. He was delighted at the idea. The loaner I gave him had fenders. Oh boy, he liked that! "I hate getting that skunk stripe on my back when the roads are wet", he told me. I asked him if he would like some fenders. He was overjoyed.

The bike is going to take a lot of work. It needs new tires badly. I am going to guess that if I overhaul it, every hub and bearing will be groaning for some TLC.

I have to get this guy a light for his bike. I am thinking a generator light because the cost of batteries will be a burden to his family.

He needs a helmut too. A minor accident could really send his family into disaster.

If you folks can think of anything else I can do to help make this fellow's transportation safer, more reliable, more efficient, and more comfortable, please let me know.

If anybody wants to donate something, that would be nice too.
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Old 08-03-07, 08:46 PM   #2
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Interesting situation, Mike. I don't think an intact working poor family like that qualifies for any meaningful welfare benefits. Maybe someone who is more familiar with the welfare system can comment.
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Old 08-03-07, 09:00 PM   #3
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what kind of items are you after?
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Old 08-03-07, 09:53 PM   #4
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Interesting situation, Mike. I don't think an intact working poor family like that qualifies for any meaningful welfare benefits. Maybe someone who is more familiar with the welfare system can comment.
They can get food stamps for sure and some states have health insurance programs for children of the working poor. Marital status has nothing to do with those 2 programs, at least. Mike, how old are the children?
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Old 08-03-07, 10:20 PM   #5
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If the tires are old, you don't have to get new ones. Just get a set of Tuffy tire liners. I've used some to extend the life of some tires that really needed to be discarded.
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Old 08-03-07, 10:25 PM   #6
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what kind of items are you after?
At this point his bike could use, a light, some good tires, and a helmut for the fellow.

I have a generator light that should work, but I am not sure about running the giro against 27" tire walls. Any suggestions in that regard would be helpful. I do want to add the fenders. I should have some around here. If I do that, then the light giro has to run against the sidewalls because there is no way to mount the giro in a way to have it contact the tread of the tire.

So, to answer your question, he could use a helmut, and some good tires if you have anything available you would not mind sharing. The bike is a 1980's vintage Schwinn ten speed. 27" wheels. Anything else you can think of that would make his commuter more functional or comfortable would be kind.
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Old 08-03-07, 10:44 PM   #7
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I have a couple of spare lights and blinkers for him.
On top of that, if he needs a size 10 SPD mtb shoe (I don't know why..) and mtb pedals, I have a pair lying around.

My girlfriend has a vintage something like size 49cm women's fixed gear that she basically doesn't use, if someone wants to stomach the shipping costs.
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Old 08-04-07, 03:54 AM   #8
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Mike,
On the generator, depending on the fender material you may be able to notch the fender to allow the generator to clear, I have done this before with a Zefal fender on a tour bike.

donnamb, as far as the food stamps are concerned they "may" qualify, but in many cases it isn't worth the repeated hassle to get them. I know I have been there and it was a complete joke. It was going to take 2-3 days of my time every month to go and sit at the office and wait to have my name called just to be asked for another piece of documentation that would mean another trip back and another half a day wait. Those are days when I could be working and making money. After the first experience I did without, and in many cases the office where you have to apply is nowhere near where you are at.

Mike, Major Karma to you for helping! is there a way to send donations to help with the materials? PM me and let me know. I would like to help any way I can. Even if I need to order parts and have them sent to you.

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Old 08-04-07, 06:23 AM   #9
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I think a sidewall generator is going to be more trouble than it's worth for the guy. If used with incandescent bulbs, he'll have to replace bulbs periodically. The generator won't work in the rain because the sidewall will be slippery. And on the sidewall generator I had the mount would allow the generator to slip (either left-right or up-down) from time to time.

If you really want him to have a light, (and it makes sense, since riding in the dark with no lights causes a huge number of accidents) maybe it's better to get a small LED blinkie and a year's supply (as in, probably $10 worth) of batteries.

Edit-- I just had another idea. I run rechargeable AA's in my blinkie. I think it's possible to get a charger that comes with rechargeable AA's for $15 or something.
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Old 08-04-07, 06:25 AM   #10
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I have a generator light that should work, but I am not sure about running the giro against 27" tire walls.
Don't worry about the generator on the tire walls. I've run them for years on many different bikes. The only problem I've had besides electrical stuff is in slush and rain the generator slips against the tire. I've used thick rubber bands to put more force against the tire. Pieces of inner tube can work I suppose. I've run them with fenders too and have not had to modify the fender, the knob fits below the fender.

I had a disappointing experience helping a poor family with bike transportation, hope your experience is better.
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Old 08-04-07, 07:25 AM   #11
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Another thought on the generator...I have used them for years with good results. They make a rubber cap to keep them from slipping. As far as slipping on the bracket, if it is tightened down properly and use a bit of loctite on the bolts it isn't going anywhere.

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Old 08-04-07, 07:33 AM   #12
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How about a u lock? The two of you would not want all your hard effort to ride away.
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Old 08-04-07, 08:57 AM   #13
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Whenever I help people or do them favors it blows up in my face. I don't lend a helping hand to anyone other than close friends now, if I think someone needs help with their car I'll only lend money, and then I don't expect it back.

Hope it goes well for you though.
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Old 08-04-07, 10:53 AM   #14
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donnamb, as far as the food stamps are concerned they "may" qualify, but in many cases it isn't worth the repeated hassle to get them. I know I have been there and it was a complete joke. It was going to take 2-3 days of my time every month to go and sit at the office and wait to have my name called just to be asked for another piece of documentation that would mean another trip back and another half a day wait. Those are days when I could be working and making money. After the first experience I did without, and in many cases the office where you have to apply is nowhere near where you are at.
Ah. I guess I'm spoiled to be in such a computer-friendly state. You can download and print out the application from their website (or the library would do it for you), fill it out at home, and bring it in. After the first time (where you do have to be there in person), renewal is by mail every 6 months.
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Old 08-05-07, 04:17 PM   #15
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How about a u lock? The two of you would not want all your hard effort to ride away.
Very interesting point. Actually, this is how I met the fellow. The church lady called me and asked if I had a spare lock because he was always afraid of his ride getting stolen.

Naturally, I was happy to donate the lock. Well, the next thing of course, was that the bike needed some maintanance, so she called me again. Then, I went over to pick up the bike and drop off the loaner and...

Well, that is where this thread starts.
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Old 08-05-07, 04:23 PM   #16
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Ah. I guess I'm spoiled to be in such a computer-friendly state. You can download and print out the application from their website (or the library would do it for you), fill it out at home, and bring it in. After the first time (where you do have to be there in person), renewal is by mail every 6 months.
It seems simple, but having access to a computer is so out of reach for these folks. Yes, they could use one at the library, I suppose. But part of having that kind of wherewithall and computer saavy is part of why some people have wealth and others can't even seem to figure out where to go to get assistance. It is a painful pit. Folks in the valley sometimes just can't seem to find the path out even though it seems so clear from a bird's eye view. "Go this way", you shout to them, and they spin in a circle and ask, "which THIS way do you mean".

Man, if you have ever been in the whirlpool of life getting spun around and sucked down, you will alway remember the person who reached out to help you. Sometimes it is just that easy. Sometimes it rakes just one person to slow down the spin just enough for you to get your bearings so you can move forward and up.

Fixing this dude's bike isn't a cure-all, but human-to-human connection is a powerful thing. Maybe just the thought that another human being cares enough to help him will give him a spiritual boost that could propell him a long way - maybe even far enough for him to reach the next good thing that happens to him.

Last edited by mike; 08-05-07 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 08-05-07, 04:28 PM   #17
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I don't know if you have a local bike coop, but if you do and went in and explained the situation and that you were trying to help a struggling family and so on, I bet they might be able to hook you up. Maybe throw some parts your way. Mom should have a bike too.
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Old 08-05-07, 04:33 PM   #18
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I don't know if you have a local bike coop, but if you do and went in and explained the situation and that you were trying to help a struggling family and so on, I bet they might be able to hook you up. Maybe throw some parts your way. Mom should have a bike too.
We don't have a bicycle coop here.

I was thinking the same thing as you - Mom would be well served with a bicycle too. I am not a mission now...
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Old 08-05-07, 08:31 PM   #19
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If the tires are old, you don't have to get new ones. Just get a set of Tuffy tire liners. I've used some to extend the life of some tires that really needed to be discarded.

Thanks for the advice, Steve. Like you, I also believe in getting the most out of tires, mostly for environmental reasons. These tires, however, are shot. The sidewalls are splitting.
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Old 08-05-07, 10:09 PM   #20
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My girlfriend has a vintage something like size 49cm women's fixed gear that she basically doesn't use, if someone wants to stomach the shipping costs.
Dude I'll take that fixed gear off of your hands if you still wanna ship it. I'll pay you the shipping and a little more if you want to make something off of it.
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Old 08-06-07, 07:40 AM   #21
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I have 2 new 27" tires.

They are basic tires, nothing special but they are NEW and I don't have a use for them.

PM me the shipping address and I'll see if I can bend them up and box them... ( I have not attempted to bend them so I don't know if thats going to work without damaging them... but I'll try).
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Old 08-07-07, 04:40 PM   #22
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I'll see if I can bend them up and box them... ( I have not attempted to bend them so I don't know if thats going to work without damaging them... but I'll try).
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/c...r-folding.html
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Old 08-07-07, 05:09 PM   #23
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Be sure to show him how to maintain his bike and give him some lube and degreaser.
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Old 08-07-07, 11:28 PM   #24
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One of those reflective vests would come in handy if he rides at night. Think what you would want on your bike if you had to seriously rely on it, and work from there.
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Old 08-13-07, 09:21 PM   #25
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Thank you to everybody who offered to send parts to help this fellow out.

Special thanks go to Wahoonc (Aaron) who went to the trouble and expense to actually send two brand new tires and beautiful new polycarbonate fenders with mud flaps.

I spoke with him today and told him that fellow bicycle commuters were pitching in to help get his bike in tip-top shape. He was VERY happy and nearly moved to tears. He asked what he could do in return and I just told him to extend his hand to someone else in need. He said that he does that now whenever he can, and I believe he does.

This is all going to work very well. I am very hesitant to cut these nice fenders to mount the generator light dynamo. At the same time, I know that a battery light will not be practical because every single dime matters to this family. Literally, every single dime is critical. I will figure something out, though.

Anyway, for those of you who would still like to contribute, things that he does not have, but needs includes:

*Helmut
*Rear blinkie ( I will give him a good supply of AAA batteries)
*Ankle reflector
*Maybe a nice commuter saddle - doesn't have to be expensive. Anything would be better than the plastic saddle on the bicycle now
*Am I missing anything? If you think of something for a fellow bicycle commuter, let me know. THIS IS his family's only transportation. His family is living car free in the truest sense of the word.

You can private message me if you can spare some parts.

As an update, I found that my WALD sidesaddle baskets WILL fit on this 27" wheel base bicycle.

As a very interesting note, our fellow commuter pointed out to me that the rear tire had a slow leak and some kind of "goo" was oozing out of it. I found that someone somewhere along the way had put some kind of fix-a-flat or other tire repair goo inside the tire. Now, the interesting part is that it actually worked. Yes, a considerable amount of the goo had oozed around the tire and bubbled out from the rim near the valve stem, but this fellow just kept pumping air into the tire until eventually the fix-a-flat stuff did it's thing and plugged the hole good enough for the bike to function as a commuter.
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