Some get repaired by a West Philadelphia non-profit. Many are so far gone that they end up as scrap metal.
The Streets Department has swept downtown Philadelphia of abandoned bicycles locked to poles, parking meters, and fencing. The city leaves it up to the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition to determine which bikes are abandoned.
About 20 bikes were collected, their locks cut with a powerful angle grinder. A Bicycle Coalition ambassador, Brian Davis, has criteria to determine whether a bike is abandoned or just parked long-term.
“Many abandoned bikes have already been stripped. A lot of chains have been weathered to the point of unridable – completely rusted. The tires are totally flat. We’re looking for bikes that are not ridable.”
A week ago Davis put about 40 tags on bikes, announcing they would be removed in seven days. Half of those bikes were still there when he returned, so their locks were cut.
They were taken to Neighborhood Bike Works, a non-proft in University City that rebuilds bikes as part of a youth training program. Program director David Bevacqua says the abandoned bikes sometimes have parts he can use. Sometimes not.
“But the Free Spirit that has the crappiest possible brake from 1972 – we’ve got crates and crates of them. Unless this bike is 10 percent from being repaired, we probably wouldn’t even want to strip it.”
Bikes that are too far gone are given to scrappers, who can get about 100 dollars for a ton for the steel.