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Community Bikes: Restoration Offers Alternatives to Pricey New Bikes


Community Bikes

By Sammy Nasr. Community Bikes Program Director

I was never a bicycle guy, until 2003, when our Sebastopol-based Car-Lite non-profit group decided to open a bike shop. We did that for one main reason: To get people out of their cars and onto bikes. After much research and a dose of common sense, we realized that riding a bicycle instead of driving your car is one of the easiest and most effective means to do something good for our environment. We had urged people to walk, bike, take public transit and car pool. What we realized is that, apart from recreational cyclists and a few hard-core commuters, many people didn’t bike very much; for a few good reasons. A surprising one was that many people had bicycles but they just were stored in the garage with a flat tire or some other simple mechanical issue.

This is an easy problem to solve.

Safety is another concern that keeps people to not ride their bike as transportation. The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition ( is a strong advocacy organization that lobbies our local governments for safer streets for cyclists. Together with the Santa Rosa Cycling Club ( one can learn to ride safely with traffic.

Last year Americans bought 19.6 million bicycles (about 105 million worldwide). Bicycles, like all mechanical ‘machines’ need care and maintenance. Not many people who own bikes know how to do that. Consequently many end up unused. In addition to that, many of those 19.6 million are cheaply made bikes that break down quickly, and contribute to the glut of un-useable bicycles.

This is a shame because the bicycle is one of the most efficient transportation devices made. Zero energy, Zero carbon, Zero pollution, a lot faster than walking, and can be very pleasureful.

Cities such as Portland, Boulder, Davis and others that have invested in their bicycle infrastructure have proven that this investment has paid off considerably in the form of less traffic, less pollution, and a more livable city. I have cycled in those cities and I hope that every community one day will be like that.  In Europe and Asia, particularly, bicycle riding has a long history that sets a high standard for us to follow.

Community Bikes has been around for thirteen years; ten at our location at 4009 Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa. This Earth Day, Sunday, April 24th, from 11 to 4, we are having a re-Open House Celebration to show off our updated repair shop and showroom. There will be tours, presentations, demonstrations and, of course refreshments. All are invited. 

On other weekends, one can bring in their bike for simple tune-up help. We sell bikes at low cost and we give away bikes to many partner groups. As an example, we recently gave nearly 100 bikes to the Valley Fire victims.

Please join us, and, come on your bike if you can.