“I’ve been a bike mechanic for 7 years!” says Patrick Garth, age 22. Patrick lives in Fairhaven, but spends much of his time in Arcata.
He got the idea of being a bike mechanic from his father, who suggested that his son could have a bike to ride, if only he would learn to build one from all of the spare parts lying around. As he got good at being a mechanic, Patrick started selling fixed bikes, and developed a fleet of twenty, which he advertised by putting a “for sale” sign on the street. He made about $50 a month.
Patrick owns five bikes, and his favorite bike is a Glover Touring Bike that he bought from Ray Glover in Arcata four years ago.
Patrick has been involved in Bill Burton’s Arcata bike projects since the beginning in Marsh Commons. “Bill is my father figure and second father,” he says. “I spend more time with my own Dad, but a lot of time with Bill.”
His favorite aspects of working at the Bike Library are being with the people, and the atmosphere.
Referring to Bill’s story about sending him to Velo City 2000 in Amsterdam, Patrick says that he didn’t get too much out of the conference, but that traveling with a woman was cool and meaningful!
He biked around Europe with her, seeing Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Switzerland and England. They got into a little bit of elevation in the mountains of France near Switzerland and got hailed on in July!
Patrick’s favorite Bike Library story: “At the old shop, we straightened a bike frame by driving a car over the top of it!”
Sam is one-half Mexican, one-quarter Yacqui Indian, and one-quarter Welsh. He’s 40 years of age and has been working in the Bike Library Program for two years.
Sam started fixing and building bikes when he was a little kid. His father took him to the shop one day, took apart his back hub, and left—which gave Sam a good lesson in bike repairing. “Always watch the way something is taken apart—it makes it easier to put back together,” advises Sam.
When Sam arrived at the Arcata Bikes program, he already knew the fundamentals. He had a shop of his own at his house, but learned about the newer bikes at the Hub, by working on them.
He collects antique bikes (he owns 7) and has four other newer bikes. His wife has 5 more! Restoring his antique bikes takes lots of patience, he says. Parts need modification and are extremely hard to find. When he does locate them, people sometimes don’t want to sell. Many are rusted, and take plenty of work to bring back their original look.
Sam built a great trailer for his bikes, and is now building another one. “It takes a lot of engineering to build a trailer to the right height, so that it can be attached to small or large bike frames.” His new trailer will have a built in brake system, not one which will be added on.
Sam is most happy when working on bicycles. He also enjoys having a chance to teach people about bicycles at the Hub, and gets great pleasure when they want to grab the tools away from him and begin working themselves. In the summer time, you can find him at the shop every other day and every Saturday.
His favorite story is about watching Bill Burton throw together a kid’s kinetic bike sculpture in one day—“It was chaotic!”
Sam doesn’t own an automobile. For the last 14 years he has driven bikes. He started out on cruisers, and then went to speeds for greater practicality. He’s a utility bike rider, riding only out of necessity.
“Cars should be used only for racing and entertainment,” says Sam. “Cars are stress producing, polluting, expensive and cause accidents.”
Sam is a psychology major at HSU, and is about to graduate. For the future, he wants to set up another program similar to the Arcata Library Bikes program.
He says it’s been a great experience for him to help bring the community together.
Michael has a Ph.D. in Education from U.C.L.A., is 60 years of age and has been involved with Arcata Library bikes for about nine months.
His first bike was a Roadmaster, with a built-in horn. With his father pushing and guiding, he learned to ride it in about 5 minutes.
In his late twenties, Michael went to see the first race at the new Velodrome in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. To his great surprise, his ticket was drawn and he won a new Raleigh ten-speed.
When he moved to Arcata from Mount Shasta, his first contact with the Hub gave him a lead for housing, which worked out very well. If it hadn’t been for the Bike Library, he probably would have been on the road again.
He decided to build a mountain bike from the ground up, although he knew next to nothing about bicycle mechanics. The volunteer mechanics helped him every inch of the way and a great bicycle was produced.
One day, Rollin Richmond, president of HSU, came in to return his Library bike, a Schwinn ten speed, which had been painted school colors by his students, with a beautiful color-matched seat. Michael was so attracted to the Schwinn, he gave the bike he built away and rode the 10-speed out the door.
Michael comes to the Hub weekly and helps keep the doors open by volunteering his time. He is the current writer for the Bike Library website, working on press releases and articles for upcoming conferences.
Michael has written many articles, and three books: “The High Integrity Diet,” a living foods preparation manual with 303 restaurant-tested recipes; “Be Aware: Lessons on the Road to Spiritual Mastery,” helping you to recognize and utilize your spiritual lessons; and “Gurus in the Parking Lot: Living On and Within Mount Shasta,” concerning Michael’s spiritual adventures on and inside the great mountain. You can find out more about these books by going to his website: http://www.highintegrity.tk.
Seattle born, Stacey is now 40 years of age, and graces the shop from time to time.
At age 4, she began riding her baby-sitter’s bicycle, a 3 speed Schwinn that was much too large for her. She’s owned 5 bikes since she was 25. An old heavy duty Schwinn is her favorite bike, although she is now riding a Giant while the Schwinn is being repaired.
Stacey became involved in the Bike Library three years ago through her husband Sam Tafoya (see above). She used to volunteer twice a week, but now it’s down to once every two weeks.
What she likes most about volunteering at the Bike Library is being around like-minded people. “These guys, like Andrew, Sam and Patrick, will teach you how to work on your bike,” she says.
“When it’s really cold, a bunch of us comes in here to watch TV.”
Stacey now has the ability—after three years of practice—to build a bike from the ground up out of spare parts.
Once, a mini-van back seat was donated to the Bike Library. Now it’s Stacey and Sam’s living room couch!
| Bill Burton, Library Bikes Director
Bill Burton lives at Marsh Commons in Arcata. He says he came out of the marsh in 1998! He is 44 years of age, but you would hardly know it.
At 16, Bill was bike race training with the likes of Greg Lemond, eventually the first American winner of the Tour de France. He was riding 1000-mile weeks at the peak of his training. Upon waking up each morning, it was an internal fight to see which was more important—a high school class or riding. Many times riding won out.
A Centurian was his first bike, but a yellow Cinelli 10-speed racer—which he could have bought from Greg Lemond if he had $50 more in his pocket—was his favorite bike.
Bill has owned between 5 and 10 personal bikes, depending on the time. His favorite old bikes, the ones for which he says people should keep their eyes open are: British—Bob Jackson, Hutchins, and Raleigh; French—Motobecane, Bertin, and Puch; Italian—Italvega, Guerrechoti, and Masi; and American—Ray Glover (Arcata built!).
Upon arriving in Arcata, Bill did construction work on highways and bridges, and did estimates for union contractors.
The idea for loaning bikes came to him in the early 1980’s. In 1997 he finally put together a “Do It” meeting, prodded by two college women, Heather and Darcy. Was he stoned at the meeting? “I have never gotten stoned,” says Bill. “One needs a clear head to put together and maintain a project as demanding as this one.”
Bill opened his first shop, Arcata Community Bikes, in a rented garage at Marsh Commons on ‘G’ Street in Arcata. It was subsidized by the City of Arcata which gave him $5,000 to start the project. Two thousand dollars went for tools and supplies, and the rest for rent. There were eight core volunteer mechanics who kept it running.
The program imitated those which started in Amsterdam, and later, Portland. Bikes were painted green and left around town for use, like on-demand shopping carts. Thus came the nickname “greenbikes.” One person got off, and another one got on. In the first two years, 200 bikes were given away, and in the third year another 200. One-third was used all the time—10 hours a day—which proved the success of the system; one-third was stolen; and one third was ruined, which caused constant retrieval and repair.
Arcata community greenbikes were found on the wharf in San Francisco, in Ashland, Oregon, in Seattle, Washington, and as far away as the Strand in L.A.. A lot of energy had to be spent running around picking up derelict bikes, even in the Arcata area.
Original greenbikes have actually become art objects for sale on eBay.
This first shop of Bill’s was open for three years.
City Councilman Bob Ornelas, saying that it was “…not that popular of a program,” initiated cancellation of further city funds, and the bike giveaway program seemed doomed to failure.
Bill decided to change to the Library system, which is still used today, and opened the “Alley Shack,” where between 30 and 50 bikes were loaned. It was definitely a tapering down period.
Then, in an extremely wise decision, the Air Quality Control Board gave Library Bikes a grant with which to rent a larger building (now called the “Hub”), pay insurance, buy tools and equipment, and be capable of loaning 200 bicycles.
Since there was never an insurance claim against the bike program, Bill found insurance from a company in Hollywood for $14,000, called “event” insurance. (Every day is an event at the Bike Library!) Now, the Bike Library finally has ongoing insurance.
Bill has a great attitude about bikes. On many days he would rather keep the doors closed and work on bikes himself, but opens up to help others get going on a bike. By riding bikes, Bill says he has more free time and more money. It took him 30 years to fully realize that society’s problems could be solved by alternatives to automobiles.
Bill’s favorite bicycle stories: “When Patrick (a volunteer) turned 18, I asked him to go to Amsterdam to represent us at a bike conference. He was scared to go, but I convinced him to fly there—that it was safer than going to war. He and a friend had a great experience in Amsterdam.”
Bill was also invited to the Paris Bike Conference where he met the Mayor of Paris!
He is especially proud of the Kid’s Program after school, recognition from Congressman Wes Chesbro, and a “Zoom” national television spot—the shop was such a visual studio, that the television crew quickly filmed the spot, using the fantastic backgrounds already there.
Bill’s vision of the future includes starting bicycle recycling centers, paid for by a California redemption sticker which would in turn be paid for and given to everyone buying new bikes. He has received encouraging feedback from cities such as San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Rafael and Los Angeles.
Another young volunteer, Gabriel, is 12 years of age.
At 4 ½ , he received his first bike, but can’t remember what it was. He’s owned about 20 bikes in his lifetime, and has 2 or 3 now, depending on working condition. His favorite bike is a Giant, Warp DS 1, a 16” mountain bike with 26” wheels, full suspension, disk brakes, wide aluminum wheels and tires, aluminum body with threadless fork, and 27 speeds. He bought this $800 - $900 bike used.
Gabriel has volunteered at the Bike Library for 2 -3 years, mostly everyday, but has recently scaled back his work to 1 – 2 times a week. He helps to put bikes “on the line,” ready to be loaned out. “I like fixing them and getting them ready to go,” says Gabriel.
“One July 4th, me and Brennan had a few Pusolo Pete’s loud screaming fireworks.
We lit one off in the back room of the shop and got kicked out for a month!”
Marty was born in Hoopa, California, and is age 34.
His first bike, obtained between the ages of three and four, was a big wheel trike.
“I was riding my trike one day between the barn and the fence when my sister called her horse. The horse jumped right over me, and scared me quite a bit.”
“I took off my training wheels and crashed into a fire hydrant across the lane from the driveway. I grabbed my bike to make sure no one saw my first wreck!”
Marty has owned more bikes than can be counted. His first new bike was received at the age of ten. At 14, he got his first mountain bike. At 21, he obtained his first good mountain bike. His first bike to be stolen happened when he was 24. It was a new Specialized “Stump Jumper.” Today, his favorite bike is a Diamondback, with aluminum frame, lightweight and responsive. He can pull his canoe, using a trailer he designed especially for it.
Marty originally worked for Bill, driving a tractor, spreading ash in Blue Lake. He attended the first “Greenbikes”meeting, and was a regular working in the shop after that.
He liked the different people coming into the shop, telling their stories about their varied experiences.
One of Marty’s most interesting acquaintances during this period was another volunteer, the original “Bicycle Bill”—Bill Reid. Bill got him started building bike trailers at the shop. Bill Reid made his own rubber clothing, and lived in a bicycle trailer he built. It was 12’x3’, and was pulled behind a tricycle. Its sides were made from styrofoam, and it was shaped like a big chunk of cheese, enabling him to sit up in it. His bike-trailer combination would get 3 – 4 mph, and was completely pedal-powered. There was no welding used, only bolts holding it together.
Thank you for your efforts and your good energy, Marty.
Bart Orlando, age 48, lives on the boarder of Mckinlyville and Arcata. He commutes 8 miles to the library bike center on what might be described as a solar charged, 30 speed, pedal powered hybrid electric trike and pedicab trailer. You can view a detailed description of his vehicle at http://www.humboldt.edu/~ccat/pedalpower/inventions/frames_final_htm..htm
Bart has a B.S. degree in pre-medical biology from U.C. Irvine, class of 1982. In his Library Bikes workshop, Bart builds parabolic solar cookers/bike trailers, and pedal-powered shop tools, such as washing machines, table saws and drill presses. He also builds pedal powered PA systems, pedal powered battery chargers and pedal powered electric blenders. When it is sunny out, Bart demonstrates his parabolic solar cooker bike trailer by stir frying vegetables and solar popping popcorn in front of the Library Bike Center. Bart is one of the original founders of what he hopes will one day become an alternative transportation center in what once was a Chevy Automobile dealership, located less than a block from the Arcata Plaza in the center of town. In 2001 Bart noticed that the Isacson Motors car dealership went out of business and realized that it was a sign that the boom and bust cycle of the region’s timber industry had bottomed out. It was only a matter of time, ( 1 year later), before the Sacchi – Chevy dealership would follow suit.
Bart spoke to everyone in the community who might be interested in seeing his vision become a reality. One of the people Bart spoke to was Bill Burton, the founder of what at that time was called the Green Bike Program. Bill,a work associate of Danco Construction company, which purchased the facility from its original owner, (a Mr. Colby), when the Chevy dealership finally closed. Bart’s favorite memories of Arcata Library Bikes include the Bicycle Ball, a concert in which bands performed on the pedal powered stage before a dancing crowd, while "party beverages” were prepared using the pedal powered electric blender. Bart’s pedal powered generators have provided electricity for many bands at dances, concerts and festivals including Bob Weir, Richie Havens, Merle Saunders, Big Brother and the Holding Company, John Trudell, Zero, Steve Kimock, Clan Dycan, Scott Huckelby and others. His pedal powered generators were used to help power the 1995 Headwaters Forest protest/demonstration, as well as community events on the Arcata Plaza, the Hog Farm Pignic and The Whole Earth Festival. Bart has also volunteered at the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, the environmental demonstration house and gardens, on the campus of Humboldt State University. He works on their website, helping with the sections concerning parabolic solar cooking and pedal-powered appliances which he designs and builds there with the assistance of HSU students who receive academic class credit for their efforts. You can view CCAT at http://www.humboldt.edu/~ccat/index.html
He talks about the irony of having the Hospice second-hand store in the area attached to the H.U.B., originally used as the automobile dealership’s showroom. The Hospice runs the business, and it supports families of people who are dying of cancer. "We at the bike center next door are trying to create an environment in which polluted air and carcinogens do not contribute to illnesses such as cancer", explained Bart. “I am looking forward to the day when the Bike Library begins donating some of their bike-trailers to the Hospice Shop for them to sell in their showroom windows where cars were once displayed!”
On his original flyer, designed to advertise a Center for Alternative Transportation (which is now the Hub)Bart states, “Imagine…the Sacchi car dealership building in Arcata converted into a facility where examples of alternative transportation technology are built and displayed by local inventors…a facility dedicated to promoting the use of bikes, bike trailers, pedal cabs, alternative wheelchairs, electric vehicles, human-powered rail cars, etc. etc. etc.! Now…tell two people!”
Go get ‘em, Bart, and thank you for demonstrating your Earth-supporting visions!
I’ve wanted to interview Jeff Brady since reading about everything he’s done to repair bicycles at the Arcata Bike Library. His work descriptions are articulate, accurate, and precise. Although he wasn’t sure whether he deserved to be in this section, I was. Even though he doesn’t contribute much work at present, his vast supply of energy helped the Arcata Bike Library at its inception, and several years thereafter.
Jeff Brady is 45 years of age, and was born in Downy, California. The first bike he remembers owning was a new classic ’65 Schwinn Stingray—he received this as a gift on Christmas that year. It had a leopard skin banana seat, and upright bars. Three years later he began work on that bike, fixing a bent rim. He did a lot of wrenching in the 5th and 6th grade.
He’s owned around 20 bikes in his lifetime; now he has five cruisers, one touring bike, two mountain bikes, and one kid’s bike—a Stingray that needs to be restored. His favorite bike to look at is a ’64 Schwinn American, 2-speed, copper tone in color, like his first bike. His favorite riding bike is a Trek mountain bike, with super V duel (full) suspension.
Jeff met Bill Burton at CCAT, on the Humboldt State campus in Arcata. He donated two bikes to the newly forming “greenbikes” program: the “Black Bomb” (his dad’s bike), and “Ray,” a blue Motobecane 10-speed. He began working as a volunteer mechanic every weekend and three to four days a week.
Jeff liked fixing bikes—neglected, rusted out bikes—and making them road worthy. He enjoyed helping to make the experiment work. Unfortunately, he says, “greenbikes” was a dismal failure. Bikes were demolished. When he needed a bike to ride, Jeff could only find two in Arcata that were reliable. “The $20 deposit on loaner bikes changed all that.”
“The Library bikes need better seats!” says Jeff. When he was working at the shop, many bicycles had his beautiful machine-sewn naugahyde seats, inspirations due to his first bike’s leopard skin banana seat.
Thanks, Jeff, for all your help in making Arcata Library Bikes a success.