Brighton’s connection to R Community Bikes

Brighton’s connection to R Community Bikes

John Stewart (left) and David Kramer [Photo: Karen Frutiger, 8/29/19]

Recently when biking in Brighton, at 86 Bonnie Brae I noticed a sign attached to a bicycle:

[Photo: David Kramer]

[Photo: David Kramer]

The sign reminded me of my garage, crammed full with five bikes, two in dire need of repair.  In one quick trip, I could clear enough space in the garage to reach the croquet set (last used ten years ago), fertilizer and miscellaneous garden tools (bought for a short-lived burst of horticultural zeal), battered umpiring equipment (last worn when umpiring in Rhode Island) and an old china cabinet (too big for the house). A win-win if ever there was one.

There, I met John Stewart who filled in the details behind the sign and his role:

I am a retired data communication engineer, and I live at 86 Bonnie Brae Ave with my wife, Karen Frutiger. When I started thinking about my retirement in 2015 I decided my next career would be a bike mechanic. About that time I started volunteering at R Community Bikes at 226 Hudson Avenue. I am now one of the lead mechanics at the shop. In Brighton, we receive about 30 – 35 bikes a year. Several other Brightonians also retired, including Michael Bobry, taught themselves bicycle repair and now volunteer at R Bikes.

About R Community Bikes:  R Community Bikes

Located at 226 Hudson Avenue, R Community Bikes (RCB) is a grassroots, 501(c)3 organization, staffed entirely by volunteers, that collects and repairs used bicycles for distribution, free of charge, to the Rochester, NY area’s most needy children and adults. We give away over 2,000 bicycles every year and do over 3,000 repairs for our clients, many of whom depend on bicycles as their main source of transportation. Starting in 2014, we began providing tricycles to disabled individuals who wouldn’t otherwise be able to ride. In addition, we supply bicycles or repair services to dozens of community organizations, including church groups, youth centers, and neighborhood associations.

I donated a Roadmaster and a Giant. For the Roadmaster, R Community Bikes will cut off two locks, fix the flat tires and tune up in general.  Like most relatively inexpensive bikes coming from large chains like Walmart, the Roadmaster will be given to someone in need.


(left) the Roadmaster en route to 226 Hudson Avenue; (right) the Giant in John’s basement undergoing repairs.

Like most bikes coming from bicycle shops, the Giant has more value and will be sold with the money going toward buying necessary parts for the free bikes.  In his basement doubling as a repair station, John added a rack, water bottle stands, break pads, and replaced other creaky parts. The refurbished Giant will probably garner between $120 – 140, helping keep R Bikes sustainable. The Giant is in what John calls the “sweet spot:” of high quality and still affordable for R Bikes customers.  John noted that many customers are University of Rochester foreign students accustomed to bicycle riding in their home country.

My donated bikes come with a cautionary tale. Three summers ago at Cobb’s Hill, I inadvisably left my trusty Giant leaning on a picnic table, unlocked, as I wanted to take a quick look at the baseball game.  Although only less than ten minutes passed, when returning the Giant was gone. But the absconder took some pity, leaving in the Giant’s place the less desirable Roadmaster, itself shortly finding a home in the garage. The next day I bought another Giant who served me well before a deserved retirement next to the Roadmaster, only to be given new life thanks to John’s good works.

NOTE: Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle adds this info about the Rotary Club and RCommunity Bikes:

On Sunday September 15, from 9am-1pm at the Brighton Farmers Market, Brighton Rotary Club is doing a bike collection day for RCommunity Bikes. Bring your used, unneeded bike, in any condition and you can clean out your garage and help RCommunity Bikes help the community in one easy step!

SEE ALSO On bikes and writing: Bike Writers

Donald Hyatt inside the Rochester Subway 5/23/16 [Photo: David Kramer]

Donald Hyatt inside the Rochester Subway 5/23/16 [Photo: David Kramer]


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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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