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: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.
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!
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