Friday, April 11, 2008


I want to tell y'all about an awesome sustainability project we have right here in our very own city. "The Austin Yellow Bike Project (YBP) is a community supported ALL-VOLUNTEER 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing human-powered transportation for the people of Austin, running a community bike shop, and educating kids and adults." Basically, it is the coolest thing on the planet. Modeled after the original program in Europe, circa 1960 - similar bike projects flaired up in the states around 1980. If I tell you all about it, you have to promise to go and check it out... promise?! OK GREAT!

My podcast research led me to the Austin Yellow Bike webpage (linked above) and of course I had heard about it before. Oh how I underestimated it in reality. After skimming over the homepage, I decided to take a trip over to the main bikeshop. It was so easy to get there - about 10 minutes from campus - just take the drag all the way to 51st (by the IM fields) and turn right onto 51st. Follow that under I-35 until you see the yellow bike and sign on your right, turn in and you're there! The workshop is full of any and every bike part and tool you could ever want or need... Whether you bike for pleasure, recreation, or transportation - heck, if you have ever been on a bike at all - this place is wonderful (literally, full of wonder). Not to mention an engineer's utopia :)

There are several different programs to get involved with. The first being donation - they take any unwanted bikes or parts for their main yellow bike project. Every couple of months they release hundreds of revamped bikes (painted yellow of course) into the community for anyone to use. The honor system keeps the bikes out for awhile, but eventually the bikes run low and more are released. The second program is volunteering - by working just 12 hours in their shop (cleaning and sorting parts) you can earn the right to build one bicycle COMPLETELY FREE. In one evening, I worked 2 hours (that went by in a flash) and learned how to tighten brakes, true a wheel, and patch a tire. It was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to go back.

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