Dubuque Bike Coop soon to open bicycle checkout program - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Bike Coop soon to open bicycle checkout program

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Eastern Iowa's bicycling community continues to grow as one Dubuque organization looks to begin a bike checkout program.

From cost-efficiency to healthy to sustainability, the group called the Dubuque Bike Coop is pedaling an idea anybody can handle.

Tuesday evening found Julie Arensdorf in the Dubuque Rescue Mission's basement bicycle shop, where the Dubuque Bike Coop is currently located, fixing up a bike she found abandoned near her home.

"The cables were all rusted and the cable housing was all corroded," she said.

She knows how to handle a bicycle now, but it was during her years as a grad students at the University of Iowa where the biking bug first bit.

"I got my first bicycle at the Iowa City Bike Library and it was huge. I had never really ridden bikes before as an adult and I didn't have a lot of money, so being able to get a really quality bike for a lower price," she said, made her experience with the program even better. "Also the opportunity to get involved with the bike library and learn how to fix bikes."

Now she's volunteering with the Dubuque Bike Coop to bring that experience to others, learning to fix up old, donated bicycles, making them check-out ready for a new program here.

"Most of the bikes that we're fixing up, eventually they'll be added to our stock of bikes that we'll be renting out to everyone," Arensdorf said.

Founding member Rob Williams explained the Dubuque Bike Coop's new checkout program as "similar to the bike library in Iowa City, where people can come and pay a nominal deposit on a bike, get the bike for three months. If they bring the bike within that time, they'll get most of their deposit back, minus a small shop fee to go through and tune the bike back up."

He said the organization plans on starting its long-term bike checkout program in the next few weeks.

"It'll be a really valuable addition to the Dubuque community," Arensdorf said.

The group has several dozen bikes all ready for the check-out program and recently received a donation of bicycles from the Dubuque Police Department.

"Anyone and everyone in the community can come to and be a part of what we've got going on," Williams said.

At no cost, the Dubuque Bike Coop also teaches anyone interested how to fix bikes.

The groups looks to expand into a bigger space in the near future. It placed second at Dubuque's Art Gumbo night, and those funds will go toward settling into a new space, Williams said. The groups also recently received a grant from the city to erect two public bike "fix-it" stands in downtown Dubuque. Williams said each of those will include a pole on which to hang one's bike, plus some basic bicycle-fixing tools and a hand pump to fill tires.

There are similar organizations all throughout eastern Iowa, including the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective, the Iowa City Bike Library and the NewBo Bike Collective in Cedar Rapids.

The Dubuque Bike Coop's name, by the way, is, indeed, pronounced "coop," not "co-op."

"The Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective originally was going to be a co-op in name, and we found out through the state of Iowa that designation, like 'co-op' or 'cooperative,' is reserved for agriculture or energy use," Williams said, adding the state basically told that group to change its name.

When people were discussing names for the new bicycle group in Dubuque, Williams said, somebody suggested just taking out the hyphen from co-op and becoming the coop, "which I also think is kind of reminiscent of a chicken coop or something, so I think it really just ties in to being from Iowa and just having a bunch of bikes hanging around."

For more information on the Dubuque Bike Coop, click HERE.

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