Monthly Archive for September, 2009

Bike Forth a community shop for self-propelled

The Davis Enterprise: September 25, 2009

Davis Bicycles! column #27
Author: Jonathan Woolley

photo caption:
Jonathan Woolley, right, helps a visitor fix his bicycle at Bike 4th, a volunteer-run, nonprofit community bike shop at 1221 1/2 Fourth St., at L Street. Bike 4th volunteers share tools, used parts, ideas and knowledge in an effort to make bicycling more accessible for all.

The ol bicycle needs a little tune up, why not do-it-yourself at Bike 4th?

For some humans, the relationship with our two wheeled brethren and sistren is strained, punctuated by heartbreaks and dragging brakes alike. Often such affairs begin with a tickle of excitement and sense of freedom components that come standard on every bike be it Huffy or Cervello.

As the cables that hold it all together stretch, things stop shifting as before and gears that once meshed seamlessly begin to creak and slip. Unexpectedly, and certainly at an untimely moment, both tyres suddenly burst!

Then, fondness faded and trust lost, its to the side-yard, to that dusty corner in the garage, and even, in the saddest of circumstances, to the dump.

But I dare say, this told tale of failed love is no fault of the bike. The blunder lies squarely in human hands. A bike must be nurtured, oiled and adjusted, day-by-day, lest it may go astray! Yes, certainly, a hired hand could intervene; but its a contrived love maintained by anothers toil.

Would it be lovely if a minister, say, could show the tools, tips and tricks every step of the way? Oh, oh, yes, well Bike 4th is your place! Its a bike shop, yes, but not like others. We dont sell bikes and we wont install, repair, tune, shine or overhaul. We teach you to do-it-yourself, for happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.

Bike 4th is a community bike shop, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and completely volunteer-run. We share tools, used parts, ideas, knowledge and fun! Our aim is to empower through education, to provide a space for the community to access tools and knowledge about bike maintenance, and thereby make bicycling more accessible for all.

It may seem outrageous, and that it may be, but we hardly even ask for a fee! You won’t find price tags at Bike 4th – payment is flexible, it’s all about fairness, equity, ability and inclination. This is strange, eh? Well, we hope you get the drift.

We do ask for a $5 donation per hour spent in the shop, and a fair market-value contribution for parts, materials and bikes. For time spent in the shop, in lieu of a donation we’re also happy to exchange volunteer time; we ask for half the time spent in the shop for two hours wrenching, stay another to volunteer!

There are used parts a-plenty, dirty and greasy, ready as fodder to fix your bike up easy. Bike 4th is a clearinghouse for used bikes and parts. Most folks in Davis are sitting on a small pile of forsaken frames, old rusting wheels, and a random assortment of parts – nothing quite worth selling, but all too valuable to trash. Folks donate these treasure troves to Bike 4th, and by bringing things together in one organized shop, were able to give so many forgotten bikes a second life!

No need to be an expert when you come to the shop, if youve never held a wrench well start from the top. If you think yourself a tinkerer but cant figure that wump-whrible-wonkity wheel, well show tools and teach til you get the feel. It takes a little courage, patience, and spite, but to do-it-yourself, just feels quite right.

Bike 4th is part of a network of non-profit community bike projects teaching a D.I.Y. philosophy in cities across the nation. Following on five years of growing success as the Bike Church on the UC Davis campus, and now newly established in downtown Davis, we look forward to many community service projects in the future.

Come visit us downtown at the corner of 4th and L Streets, our volunteers are ready to help you work out a creaking squeaky chain. If you have bikes, parts, or tools that youd like to donate, visit or e-mail is our refrain. Peruse the sidebar for our days, hours, and more.

This Sunday will be special. Well hold a day to get students rolling. Students, parents, extra volunteers and donations will be welcome from noon to 5:00 p.m. Join us then, later, and as we all peddle Davis together.

— Jonathan Woolley is a volunteer at Bike 4th by night, and a UC Davis research engineer for energy efficient buildings by day. Youll find him biking swiftly across town with panniers full of groceries or a trailer of used bike parts for Bike 4th. Say hello at

AYSO encourages biking to soccer, refilling water bottles

The Davis Enterprise: September 11, 2009

Davis Bicycles! column #26
Author: Kelly Safford

photo caption:
U-16 soccer players practice Tuesday in Community Park, as their bikes lay waiting for the ride home. Many soccer players are biking to practice and games thanks to a sustainability program promoted by Davis AYSO, which also encourages the use of refillable drink bottles and snacks without wrappers to reduce AYSOs carbon footprint.

Soccer is central to the Davis experience. Every fall more than 2000 kids learn teamwork and physical skills, and get a great dose of exercise. The season brings families and friends together on the field and on our roads. Traffic congestion, wasted petroleum, and unnecessary pollution result when too many people use automobiles to reach the pitch. Many Davisites walk or ride their bikes to AYSO events, but those still driving are disconcerting given rising temperatures linked to greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce our organizations impact on the plant, Davis AYSO developed a sustainability policy.

In the fall of 2006, Steve Brown, Kevin Klein and Joe Krovoza started Bike to AYSO. To support this, AYSO composed teams based partly on players home locations relative to a central practice site. AYSO funded Susan Handys UC Davis research team to crunch the numbers. That year, almost 60 percent of AYSO players reported usually biking to practice, but less than 25 percent of players were walking or biking to weekend matches. Those who biked tended to come from biking families, and tended to live close to the games field. Although the riding to game numbers seem low, less than one percent of all intra-urban trips are made by bicycle. The results reinforced our determination to continue and to improve the initiative.

Last fall, Davis AYSO began to reduce our carbon footprint still further. Our new Bike and Bottle Campaign is now in year two. Reducing the waste soccer generates became an added emphasis. Fleet Feet, Freewheeler and Kens Bike & Ski provided players with a reusable water bottle. Each teams Green Coordinator encourages players to ride, create bike-pools and car-pools, and also works with snack parents to encourages waste-free at-game snacks like fruit, home-made baked goods, and other no-wrapper munchies. It is exciting to see how many 2008 bottles are still hard at work in 2009!

Coordinators also visit practices and games to help increase participation and tally the number of players biking and using the reusable bottles. Last year, the greenest teams got prizes from Alphabet Moon, Baskin Robbins, Ben and Jerrys, Habit Burger, Nugget, Starbucks, Yogurt Shack and 49er Video.

Our campaigns have been a success. There is less trash to clean from the fields. Unofficial polling suggests that car-pooling to away games has also increased. We dont know yet whether bike ridership is up over 2006, but there is reason to be very optimistic. Parents and players have welcomed our message.

The benefits to AYSO have gone beyond sustainability. Sarah Mungas who has no kids in soccer shared her enjoyment at seeing young players in her neighborhood congregate for a bike-pool while waiting for a parent to bike with them. And Sarah added, They were excited to show me their new water bottles!

AYSO coach and referee Ron Unger also sees more than environmental benefits. You see more friends, parents and players talking and laughing when they bike together. People are recognizing how beneficial biking is to their families and their own well-being.”

It can be hard to modify habits. But through awareness, group activity, and the leadership of coaches, parents and volunteers, we are succeeding. Once someone tries the biking lifestyle, they see how easy it is to leave the automobile in the driveway. There isnt a simpler and safer place in the country to hop on a bike. The environment benefits and demand for petroleum drop. Players get the added benefit of arriving already warmed up. Probably the most important impact is with younger children. They become quite conscious of the biking and waste reduction options, and their parents are more likely to support it.

Its AYSOs view that even though our city is a national leader in sustainable living, we can do better. Coach Stan Dean puts it this way, Davis AYSO shows that its program is more than just playing soccer, we are a local leader in encouraging kids and families to think responsibly.

Encouraging sustainability in soccer activities as been so positive for AYSO. We invite other groups to learn from our experience. Thank you to the players, coaches, Green Coordinators and parents who have contributed to the environmental ethic of Davis AYSO!

— Kelly Safford is the Sustainability Coordinator for Davis AYSO. Her boys play soccer, and the whole family rides bikes to soccer games and practices. Send any questions or information to