The UC Davis population may drop for summer, but many of its bicycles will remain to the dismay of campus transportation officials and those looking for bike parking. Luckily, the UC Davis International Pre-Law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, offers a solution.
This is the first year that Phi Alpha Delta is sponsoring the bike collecting effort, which began by the bicycle shop Mike’s Bikes in 2007. The fraternity will gather any bikes students want to donate and transport them to Mike’s Bikes in Sacramento where they will be used to assist a developing nation in Africa.
Mike’s Bikes will ship the bicycles to the African nation of Namibia, according to senior Nathan Weaver and Community Service Chair of Phi Alpha Delta. Namibians will then be trained as mechanics by the Mike’s Bikes Foundation and be provided with the skills they need to start bicycle businesses of their own.
Mike’s Bikes co-owner, Ken Martin, stated Namibia was chosen as this year’s Africa Bike Drive focus because of its flat landscape, low population and lack of transportation.
“In a place like Africa, bicycles allow their owners access to health care, education and employment that might otherwise be unreachable,” Martin said. “Namibia is sparsely populated with extremely rural villages that have literally no access to bicycles.“
Weaver observed the large amount of bikes left at UC Davis and was inspired to help the effort.
“I had a job on campus and noticed a lot of abandoned bikes,” Weaver said. “It wasn’t easy finding bike parking even though the campus was relatively empty.“
After speaking with UC Davis Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) Weaver learned that over 1,000 bikes are abandoned on campus every year and TAPS officials are required to auction them. Weaver and Phi Alpha Delta were then referred to the Mike’s Bikes Foundation.
Chris Civil, a senior political science major and Public Relations Committee member of the fraternity thought the Africa Bike Drive was the perfect cause to assist.
“We thought that this sounded like a neat project, especially given the bike oriented nature of Davis,” Civil said. “There is definitely a real need for these bikes in Africa, and we think that Davis with its large bike population and continual flow of students is in a unique position to help out.“
The Africa Bike Drive website reports that 406 bikes were donated to Botswana in 2008. This year Mike’s Bikes hopes to double the amount of bikes it sends to Namibia.
“We’ve decided to build on this success and double our goal for our 2009 Africa Bike Drive – over 800 bikes,” Martin said. “We have a great new partner and a new beneficiary for our cause. For every bicycle donated, Varsity Painting will contribute $30 to the Children’s Hospital of Oakland on behalf of the bike donor.“
Civil reports that 20 graduating students have expressed interest in donating so far, and the fraternity is actively seeking more donors.
“Ideally, we want all of the unwanted [bikes],” Civil said. “But for the first year of this project, 50 donated bikes would be a great goal.“
Representatives from Phi Alpha Delta have offered to pick up and transport any donated bike by the end of June at the owner’s convenience. Those interested in donating can contact the fraternity’s Community Service Chair, Nathan Weaver, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMANDA HARDWICK can be reached at email@example.com.