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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections

City Decides to Reinvent the Wheel on Bike Distribution
by Steve Pleich
Wednesday Jan 29th, 2014 12:55 PM
Wheels Within Wheels
It is both unfortunate and sad that the City Council has chosen to reject out of hand the years of service provided to the community cost free by the Bike Church Tool Collective. Unfortunate because rather than recognizing and utilizing a fully functional and sustainable bicycle refurbishment and distribution program, it has chosen instead to create another wasteful layer of bureaucracy to oversee. By favoring the Teen Center as the new distribution agency, the city has effectively "reinvented the wheel" where none was necessary. And now, only useable bicycles will be redistributed while the bicycle parts which could have been given new life by the Bike Church will now be auctioned off with no real end result in mind. And that is truly unfortunate.

But this decision by council is also sad. It is sad because it reflects the elevation of politics over practicality and community benefit that has become the hallmark of our present civic leadership. By any measure, the Bike Church would have distributed a greater number of bicycles that any other qualified and similarly experienced organization. This could have been, and should have been with enlightened leadership, a model of the kind of "public/private partnership" that this community sorely needs. One need look no further than the reopening of Harvey West Pool to see a working example of this model. Unable to cost effectively operate the large pool, the city closed that facility in 2007. In 2010, when community members Kevin Moon, Jim Booth and myself formed a private partnership to operate the pool, the city was wise enough and willing enough to agree to a public/private partnership that resulted in the large pool being reopened for community use; and it remains open on a regular summer schedule to this day. And yet now, with a experienced, community minded private partner ready, willing and able to take on the program of bicycle redistribution, civic leadership declined to make the obvious and best choice. What part politics played in this decision is a matter upon which reasonable minds might differ. But as a matter of good, common sense, there can be no argument that our community, and especially every young person who might not now experience the joy of bicycle ownership, deserves better.