Get your diploma, abandon your bike. This spring ritual is almost as familiar on college campuses as Pomp and Circumstance. But you can do a lot of good by donating your bike rather than bailing on it.
It’s not uncommon for students to get to college with a bike only to lock it up and forget about it. But when you graduate, you shouldn’t just leave it there when you know you’re never coming back.
Abandoned bikes make riding tough on others
Bike parking is a scarce resource. Most outdoor racks are meant for short-term use, not long-term storage. Each spot taken up by an abandoned bike is a spot not available for a bicyclist who needs it.
With abandoned bikes taking up valuable space, bicycle parking becomes less convenient for potential users, which could dissuade people from trying to bicycle at all. Additionally, a rack with abandoned bikes might attract thieves and scavengers, making bike parking less secure overall.
While it’s likely the university will eventually remove abandoned bikes, that could be weeks or months away. Save the maintenance workers and public safety staff the time and hassle of cutting your lock, storing, and eventually disposing of your old bicycle by dealing with it yourself.
Serious good can come of your bike even if you don’t care about it
Instead of abandoning your bike, consider donating it. Before leaving campus, take one last ride to drop your bike off at a local non-profit like Gearin’ Up or Phoenix Bikes, where they’ll fix your bike up and get it to someone who could really use it.
For the more globally-minded, consider Bikes for the World, an organization that sends used bicycles to developing countries, by either dropping off your bike at a partner shop or at at one of their collections this month.
Buying a new bike isn’t an option for every potential bike commuter. Community-oriented organizations like these help provide bicycles to would-be bicyclists who might not have otherwise have access to one. And even if your old bike isn’t functional, parts of it might still be and those parts can be used in repairs to get other bikes back on the road.
Even if your old bike is no longer part of your life, it still has value. As you move on to the next stage in your life, help your bike move on too.
This post originally ran in the spring of 2015, but since the issue comes up every year, we figured a reminder wouldn’t hurt!