On January 25, 1997, the original YBP volunteers released the first 24 yellow bikes with the aid of the Bikes Not Bombs shop. A yellow bike is a recycled bike that was destined for the landfill. We redirect these bikes out of the refuse stream, recondition them, and release them to function as free community bikes. To date, the Yellow Bike Collective has released hundreds (thousands?) of free community bikes. Yellow Bike volunteers fix donated bikes up into simple, one-speed machines and then paint them yellow and release them to the streets. The volunteer who repairs the bike gets a free education in bike mechanics, and the community gets another free bike to ride but not to own.
We release Yellow Bikes at various times of the year, as volunteer power allows. We target special events where lots of folks will be around to use the bikes, such as:
May: Yellow Bike birthday sometime during Bike Month (May)
September: ACL release on the 1st day of the music festival
November: East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.)
December 31st: First Night – Austin’s New Years celebration
Q: Is building and releasing Yellow Bikes the only thing that Yellow Bike does?
A: Absolutely not. We have been around since 1997 and over the years have evolved into an organization that puts much more energy into education efforts, serving hundreds of people per week by teaching them bike repair and maintenance in our community shops. We also run programs aimed at getting bikes to kids or those in need. Nowadays we see the releasing Yellow Bikes more as a by product of what we do. At The Yellow Bike Project this is how we see it:
A) We have an excess of donated department store bikes in poor condition.
B) There are lots of volunteers that are eager to learn to repair and maintain bikes.
C) There are many people either in need of transportation who will benefit from finding a Yellow Bike OR people who haven’t ridden a bike in years who might find a Yellow Bike and have it spark their interest in riding again!
D) All of the above: Yellow Bikes! (correct answer!)
Q: Why do I never see Yellow Bikes on the street?
A: Truth-be-told many of the Yellow Bikes that we release end up being taken by individuals in need as their own. Although this is not in the true spirit of the community bike “free to ride but not to own,” we realize that those willing to ride a bike hand painted yellow are very much in need. If you look closely around town many of the Yellow Bikes end up painted gray or some other color to mask the yellow paint job that we give. Our ultimate intent is to make bicycle transportation available to all and especially those in need, so seeing a gray bike in use still brings a smile to our faces.