Build a Beater

It’s an official P2P program now. Jason was the first. Now we have another guy on deck.

The purpose of the Build a Beater program is to provide a relatively cheap bicycle to people that are willing to build up their own bike out of surplus bits from the P2P boneyard and stash piles. The idea is to build a bike that is “good enough” for basic transport: single speeds, fixed gears, city bikes, etc.

You should have some basic mechanical/bikey skills. As a beater builder, you’re expected to be pretty autonomous in your work. That said, you should ask questions and get some guidance if you’re unsure of stuff. The end goal here is to get you riding your bike.

Here are the ground rules:

  • Before you do anything, you must sign a standard liability waiver
  • You must pay $50 before starting to build. This fee can be reduced if you’re broke. If you decide not to finish, we’ll refund your money.
  • You can use pretty much any components that are not attached to other bikes in the shop. There are a few components/bits that are fancy and shouldn’t go on beaters. If you are not sure, ask a P2P volunteer. If we don’t have a component (single freewheels, fixed cogs, etc) that you want in the garage, then you must supply it.
  • Typically,the only new bits on the bike are brake/derailleur cables and housing. Everything else is used.
  • You are welcome to use any tools in the shop to finish your build.
  • Please try to finish your build w/in a month. We only have one beater builder in the shop at a time,so try to finish up so the next person can begin building.
  • You can only build/work on the bike during normal shop hours: M/W nights 6-8 pm.

P2P – Scoop Photo Contest

Ok. Here’s the scoop. (pa dum pum!)

The Scoop is sponsoring a photo contest and sale called “Viewed by Bike.”

It’s a neat idea. And to be successful, it requires participation from you.

The Basic Plan

Your piece of this project is, well, fundamental to its success. You take pictures of bikes, from bikes. Go nuts: anything bike related is good stuff. Or if you already have a really cool picture of you on a bike when you were a kid, that’s a good submission.

Then, submit the photos to Pedals2People by email ( or drop off hard copies at The Scoop (25th and Monroe).

We’ll print 8×10’s of the submitted photos and hang them all over the walls of the Scoop. They’ll be for sale, cheap. They’ll be there December and January.

So this means when you give us your photo you are giving us the rights to it too.

The Calendar Idea

I’m still waiting to hear from that super cool desktop publisher designer person that will design a bitchin calendar with the best photos. If that person emerges and designs a cool calendar, we’ll print up a batch of 2008 calendars and sell those. That means that this guru designer person also needs to understand how to create a printable product — like, something we can take to a printer. If that guru is you, please contact us!

Which are the best photos? I like Joe’s idea of how to select the top 12 photos: we’ll do a people’s choice type thing. Or better yet, maybe we can find a way to squeeze them all in there. I don’t know. But I do like the idea of a P2P calendar. With little events on random days: May 12th 2008: “you better be riding your bike to work today!” Or,June 22nd: “First overnighter of the year – meet at Bowl and Pitcher”. Stuff like that.

Some Technical/Detail Goo

If you bring a photo (as in a hardcopy,as in, your childhood bike photo) we can scan and then print, and then give your photo back.

If you’re submitting via email make sure the photo is good for printing at 8 x 10. I’d say 1600 x 2000 or so on the low end and 2400 x 3000 on the big end. No weird-o file types please. Jpeg preferred.

Deadline: Dec 3rd.

Limit: 2 submissions per person.

I don’t think we’ll make a gob of money off of this deal, but I’m ok with that. I’d love to walk into the Scoop (where I coffee just about every day) and see a ton of bike photos everywhere. And then to produce a calendar out of the deal too. That would be fun and a perfect holiday gift for your favorite cyclist.

Are we leaving anything out here? If so, let us know:

Get your camera and grab your bike

(I’m about 95% this photo was taken by Sheldon Brown — I’m 100% sure that I didn’t ask for permission to post it.)

The folks at The Scoop are doing a cool thing. In December and January, they’ll be putting up a bunch of bike photos in their in-shop gallery. Proceeds from sales of the bike photos go to Pedals2People. That’s cool as is. But what makes this event really neat is that the bike photos will come from the community.

The event is called “Viewed by Bike.” There are still some details to work out, but basically, the idea is that folks (like you) go and take photos of bikes, from a bike, or anything bike-related and then give them to The Scoop. We’ll go print them (thinking 8×10’s here) and hang them at The Scoop. Hopefully there will be a bunch of submissions and hopefully there will be a bunch of folks buying them. For now, let’s limit the submissions to two per person.

Thinking on this more, I think we should do a calendar. Get a panel of judges, have them choose their favorite 12 photos, then we make a Pedals2People calendar for 2008. Any graphic designers out there looking to donate some time to build up a sweet calendar? If we can find a great design, I’ll spring for the printing as long as we can cover that cost with initial calendar sales; the rest goes to P2P.

So that’s the plan. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, if you have a photo send it to me at

The First Pile of Bikes Has Been Transferred to Mountain Gear

As with every project we’ve tried, we learned a few things on our first transfer of bikes. Our first transfer was last Monday.

For context: we are partnering with Village Bike Project to ship the surplus bikes in Spokane to Ghana. In a nutshell: this means we gather 500 bikes, stuff them in a container, and ship them to Ghana, Africa. At the moment, we work out of a donated garage on the south hill. When we get more than 40 bikes in there, it’s nearly impossible to do anything but squeeze through the stacks. Enter Paul. Paul owns Mountain Gear and has a big warehouse in Spokane Valley. He’s donating space for us to stack bikes.

Anyway, we learned that it takes a fair bit of coordination to move a stack of bikes. Dan Treecraft is helping us by donating his time and truck. Then we’ve got a few folks we need to get to our space and help load up. Then we need to make sure Paul and his folks at Mountain Gear are ready for us. Aside from the coordination, the actual transfer took 2.5 hours: from pick up to end of delivery. Because Mountain Gear is a business we try to get in there during business hours so we can minimize our disruption to folks there. In the end, we moved 30 bikes.

So, there is a fair bit of overhead here.

Some ideas to streamline this:

  • Paul’s idea is the best: we would find a shipping container, drop it at the Mountain Gear warehouse site and then pack as we go. Paul has lots of space,but it’s sort of dynamic,we may need to move stuff around periodically. We want to minimize how much we move bikes around. Paul also suggested stacking bikes on pallets, strapping them down, and then we can move them around in bulk much easier. I like this idea, but studying how the VBP folks pack the containers, we’ll have to unstack the pallets and restack them when it comes time to load. So: the “find a shipping container” idea is perfect. This would also make it easier for us to load during non-business hours. It’s hard to get volunteers during weekday biz hours.

So: if you have a container or have any ideas on someone who may donate/loan one to P2P, please contact us. It may not even be a donate thing. Normally at ship time the VBP folks have to go buy a container — so it maybe more of a loan deal.

  • Do bigger runs. The actual loading time is pretty short when you have 3 or 4 people. So the process would scale easily if we had another truck and we could do runs of 60 bikes. My guess is that this would add about 40 minutes and we’d be moving twice the number of bikes. Of course there’s the issue of stacking 60 bikes in our garage, but there are a couple creative things we could do to squeeze more in.
  • Do smaller runs. In this model, we’d just have a trailer at the garage that holds about 15 bikes. Then we round-robin. Once the trailer fills, we have one volunteer make the run when they can make it and during the warehouse business hours. It takes that one person longer, but it’s less of an impact on the organization.

Got any ideas? We’re all ears.

Regardless: this is an exciting project. People really respond to it and we’re getting a nice boost in donated bikes. We’ll get these details figured out. We’re still targeting next Summer as our goal for shipping the container.

We've Got Bike Stacking Space!

The big missing piece to our full-on participation in the Village Bike Project was finding a space to hold the bikes until they’re ready to be loaded in a container. We scored a spot today. Paul Fish, the owner of Mountain Gear has hooked us up. As a thank you, go spend your next paycheck at Mountain Gear.

Mountain Gear HQ (in the Spokane Valley) has a “bike room.” It’s a room with bike racks and a small bikeshop for employees to fix their bikes. There is also a guy on staff (Jerry?) who is also a bike mechanic and helps with wrenching on bikes. I saw signs with “bike stuff for sale” and they said something about how there are “parts available” or something. Cool place. I took a spy photo.

click for bigger.

Without getting too gushy here, it’s obvious that Paul is a guy that lives his values. I saw many examples of this while visiting and heard them in talking to him. He’s very into the idea behind the VBP and it’s an honor for us to consider him and his employees a partner in this project.

The Plan

The “steering committee” of P2P met last Saturday. Our main goals were to get the scope of our mission statement finalized; figure out how to organize our group; and define a set of “Phase 1” projects. I’ll lay out the basics here; we are in the process of formalizing all of this with a goal of getting a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit status.

As we progress down this road, we’ll be sharing more details — my hope is that we’ll just be posting all of our articles of incorporation, bylaws, and 501c3 application online here. There may be some obvious reason that we shouldn’t do this, but after seeing other documents like this online, I don’t see why.

Anyway; in a nutshell:

Mission Statement. This is not final, but we wanted to open it up a bit, so we don’t get in a situation where we want to do something, but it falls outside the scope of our mission statement.

“Using the bicycle as a tool to empower people and to build healthier communities.”

That’s the basic statement, but we’ll be following it with a set of statements that express our values, which are summed up with the following words/phrases: sustainable, healthy communities,increasing bike ridership and ownership,community action, inclusion, transportation, environmental, light footprint, recycling, reuse, rehabilitate, outreach, empowerment, teaching, secular organization, tool.


Some interesting (to us?) bits about how we’ll be organizing our board:

  • 5 voting members.
  • No significant others/partners/relatives on the board.
  • All members are active volunteers in the org: at least 50 hours/yr (not including board meetings)
  • All members are volunteers. No members may pull any kind of salary/benefits from P2P
  • Meetings are closed; president may invite guests. One annual meeting will be open to anyone.
  • Quorum is 4. Four votes required to change by laws/vote out members. Basic decision making: 3 votes.
  • Minimum of 11 meetings annually
  • Terms are 3 years. Four consecutive terms max. One year off to reset.

Phase 1 Projects: we had a huge number of projects that we want to do. We narrowed the Phase 1’ers down to this list. We don’t have a milestone for Phase 2, but each project has an owner with internal milestones. This is the fun stuff. In time, we’ll build up a web page for each project on our site.

  • Community Bike Tune Ups: we’ve been doing these and they’ve been great. This is where we go to places in the community and do free tune ups. We’ll do at least one a month from May – Sept.
  • Village Bike Project: This is a huge and great project to be a part of. It also solves a lot of issues for us and our ability to collect donated bikes. Space is still an open issue.
  • Build-A-Beater: we’re doing this right now with a guy as a test run and it seems good. The basic idea here is that we’ll take a person on Monday or Weds nights for a few weeks and they’ll build up their own bike from the bits we have. The guy doing this right now is building a single-speed winter bike. When your done, you give us a donation and you have a beater or a basic grocery getter. We’re not talking high-zoot here; we’re talking highly-reliable basic transportation.
  • Basic Bike Repair Class: Liza teaches this already and it’s a great class. For learning basic road-side repair; bike maintenance, and the tire change.
  • Used Bike Sales: this is pretty low on the priority list, but every now and then we get a sweet old cruiser or a pretty decent commuter-type bike. We’ll likely craiglist it. But we do have a couple potential options for bringing them to events to sell.
  • Kid’s Bikes: in the past we’ve been giving bikes away to anyone who wants one. We’re getting out of that business for a number of reasons. But we do think kids should have bikes. Most kids get bikes and don’t have to pay for them. We’re looking to partner with some local women/children shelter type places to make sure the kids there have bikes.
  • Donated Bikes: again, if we find the space for the Village Bike Project bikes, we’ll be set. Once that space is figured out, we’ll start taking donations again. And we won’t have to be so selective. We’ll take it all.
  • Ad hoc projects: stuff comes up; we want to do one-time events that make sense. Stuff like the Farmer’s Market on Oct 6th, or the Local Flair Street Fair or Pride Parade that we did.
  • Monday/Weds nights at our shop: We’ll be staffing the garage from 6-9 M/Ws to take donated bikes; flatten bikes for VBP; strip or repair other bikes. This is also when we’ll have our “build-a-beater” person working on their bike.

Phase 2: Here’s a laundry list of projects we would like to do in the future: Create-a-commuter; earn-a-bike; bike bucket sales/class; workshop rental; downtown bike parking/showers; rent-a-bike-downtown; partnering with other non-profits for a variety of stuff; community cycling center.

Volunteers: One place we’ve had a hard time is figuring out a good way to bring in volunteers and get them set up and successful. We’ve had folks come to help and we’ve not had a good plan for getting them working and going. Our future success relies completely on building a strong and passionate network of volunteers.

To make this a reality, we are developing some basic projects along with a list of steps/handbook to make sure that any and all volunteers can come to our events and provide value. Every M/W night, we’ll have at least one trained member whose job it is to take in new volunteers and get them going on a task and to stay with them until they are productive.

You don’t have to be a bike mechanic to volunteer here. Contact us if you’re interested in volunteering:

So that’s the nutshell version. Stay tuned.

Getting to the Farmer's Market

(Click map to open up the interactive Google map in a new window)

Beth is working with the folks at the Spokane Farmer’s Market to introduce some bike stuff there. P2P will have a presence at the Market on Oct 6th and there’s some talk of being more involved next Spring. We’ll see what Beth cooks up.

One thing the folks at Farmer’s Market asked us to do was to recommend some bike routes. The Farmer’s Market is just in a tough spot for biking. So no matter what, if you’re biking there, you’re biking on some busy-ish streets, which can be a hard sell for folks that are not used to riding in traffic.

The routes we’ve recommended here are mostly on main roads where you’ll have the right-of-way. There are a few exceptions.

What new riders don’t often understand is that riding with traffic on roads with the right-of-way is much safer than riding through uncontrolled intersections. There is a perception of safety when you stay on the side streets, but it is more dangerous, as you’re just not as likely to be seen or expected.

When you ride out in the lane, cars see you and must go around or yield to you. Follow the law as you would if you where a slow vehicle. If you’re holding up more than 5 cars, pull over and let them pass. Generally,if you travel on roads where there are 2 lanes of travel in your direction,cars can easily go around you. Especially in Spokane.

On Saturday morning you’ll find the streets pretty bare, even Division, 3rd, and 2nd.

Stay off the sidewalks, follow the traffic laws, and enjoy the ride.

Wear it in, wear it out…

David, John & Mike

this photo, you see David Peckham of the Village Bicycle Project
talking with John and Mike up at the garage. We invited David to look
over our inventory and see how much of our junk would be worth sending
to Ghana.

Almost all of it, it turns out.

In David’s right
hand (resting on the seat of John’s craptacular new trike) is a rusty
old single-piece crank. We had dumped it into a box with some other junk
that was destined for recycling. After all, we’re up to our necks in
single-piece cranks, why on earth would we keep a rusty one?

David said these parts are very valuable in Africa, that they will use
and reuse parts until they’re worn down to practically nothing. He told
us of chunks of rubber flip-flops being used in place of bottom bracket
bearings, of pieces of tire tube being spliced together with needle and
thread, of a man cutting a tin can with a machete to fashion a washer
to hold a spoke nipple in place.

I’ve always been a hardware packrat. The bottom of my toolbox is filled
with nuts, bolts and other odds and ends – even an old broken
derailleur that I’ve been carrying around for over a decade because,
well,You Never Know When You Might Need It.

I was always a little embarrased by my own compulsive hoarding.
But now,as I’m stripping down wrecked bikes or prepping good ones for
shipment to Africa, every last piece, no matter how rusty or battered,
simply glows with potential. I was seriously debating whether to trash
a twisted suspension fork from a Wal-Mart bike, knowing full well that
someone would figure out a way to straighten it and make it work.

in addition to piles of bikes, we’ll no doubt be sending over some
boxes of parts as well. I might even use the opportunity to part with
that old broken derailleur.

3 weeks later…

on july 18, 2007 i boarded a plane to the Netherlands (one of the greatest places on the planet and the world capital of biking, 12 million bikes deep). anyhow, i will post about bikes, amsterdam with pictures and all another day. for now i wanted to comment on all the progress p2p made over the three weeks i was gone. most notably the garage. p2p now has a garage with over 50 donated bikes decorating the walls, floor space and then some…wow! we’ve also got a list of folks, mostly children, waiting to get a bike. last wednesday, i had my first opportunity to hand over a p2p bike. the mother explained as i wheeled the bike out to her car that her she and her son had showed up bright and early to KHQ/Dishman Dodge in hopes of getting a bike. unfortunately they were one of the families that did not wheel into the sunset that day…after distributing 80 bikes (more or less) we still had to jot down names and come up with a plan to get bikes to these people. when Pia’s son learned he was not going to take a bike home he exclaimed his disappointment and devastation to his mom by telling her his ‘heart hurt’. i can’t tell you how amazing it felt to send Pia off with a bike on wednesday. with that, i’d like to say great job to all who have been dedicating time and energy to this effort. the impact of the bike donation program is infinite. Keep it up y’all (including all those who have donated bikes, corporate sponsors/organizers and dedicated volunteers)!