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Chris Smith: If your kid needs a bike, the wheel deal is on Sebastopol Road

It sounds like a nightmare: Truckloads of kids’ bicycles, many of them really nice, barely ridden ones, being dumped into recycling heaps alongside empty soup cans, dead washing machines and remnant lengths of plumber’s pipe.

No one wants to see that happen, least of all the lovers of wheels, spokes, chains and gears who run Santa Rosa’s nonprofit Community Bikes shop. But they’re dealing with a kids’ bike crisis.

“We’ve got ’em coming out of our ears,” said volunteer bike mechanic Bill Haluzak.

The problem is that people who buy their youngsters new bikes as the old ones are outgrown are quite good at donating the castoffs to Community Bikes, which accepts, repairs if necessary and sells used bikes. And amid the stay-at-home orders, people have been buying a lot of new bikes.

But too few parents are coming into the unusual bike shop near the western end of Sebastopol Road to purchase handed-down two-wheelers for their kids.

“If we can’t sell them,” Haluzak said Wednesday at the classically funky and jam-packed shop, “we’ll have to take them to the scrap lady.”

Horror of horrors.

Kids and bikes are one of the greatest combinations on Earth. And there are sweet, like-new specimens among the kids’ bikes arrayed in rows at the 18-year-old Community Bikes.

Haluzak pointed out one. “There’s not even scuffs on the side of the seat,” he said. No kid rides a bike very long without dropping or crashing and scuffing the seat.

Haluzak read off some of the brand names. “Cannondale, Trek, Schwinn, Specialized, Marin, Navarro.”

“None of them are junk,” he said. “Some of them weren’t used for a year” before they were donated.

Community Bikes really needs to move out several dozen kids’ bikes to free up space for the donated bikes that come in the door at a rate of several a day.

As with any retail enterprise, sales are essential to this shop, operated by LITE Initiatives. As part of its mission to encourage individuals and communities to live more cleanly and efficiently, LITE promotes cycling by receiving, restoring and selling used bikes, or by salvaging parts, and by teaching do-it-yourself bicycle maintenance and repair.

There’s more on Community Bikes at its website: communitybikessantarosa.org

There’s always plentiful wheelin’ going on at the shop, and amid the glut in children’s bikes there’s also some serious dealin’. Perfectly serviceable 12-inch to 20-inch bikes normally priced at $40 to $70 or more are discounted to $10, $15, $20.

“We’ve got to get rid of them,” Haluzak said.

Community Bikes is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. With the pandemic still on, the volunteers can let only so many people into the shop at one time, so you might call, at 707-579-5811, before you go.

LOSE A RING? Somebody left a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Rohnert Park on Wednesday without a little something presumably treasured.

A simple gold wedding band was found on the floor at one of the vaccination stations at the Rohnert Park Community Center.

Sherrill Dunning-Riley, a registered nurse who’s helping to administer shots, found a date inscribed inside the ring. It’s a particular day in August of 1980.

If it’s your ring, shoot Sherrill an email at sedunning@aol.com. Tell her the day of your wedding in August 1980 and arrange to get your ring back.

LEXI LAWSON is the caring and precocious Santa Rosa 9-year-old who contributed to a church-based pantry the $500 she brought in by baking, packaging and selling cookies and dog biscuits. Lexi chose Elisha’s Pantry to receive the donation because she and her mom, Becky, sometimes find it necessary to go there for food, and they’re deeply thankful.

Since Sunday’s story on Lexi and Becky, and on the unexpected death early last year of father and husband Adam Lawson, I’ve been asked if there is a way to give them some assistance.

There is. Shortly after Adam’s death, a family friend posted a crowdfunding request to help his wife and daughter get through a difficult time.

That appeal is at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/gmmr3-adam-lawson-memorial-and-family-fund

You can reach Staff Writer Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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