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County, environment benefiting from recycled bicycles

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By Bennett Horne

The Los Alamos County Public Works Department is not in the job of building bicycles, but it is interested in developing them as a means of no-emission transportation.

And if it can accomplish that goal through the process of recycling then it’s a win-win situation for the county.

The department recently pedaled in that direction by building three bicycles out of useable parts from bicycles that had been dumped at the county’s eco-station. The bicycles received new white paint jobs, as well as a metal insignia of the county’s logo on one side of the frame and a similar license plate that hangs from the back of the seat.

The bicycles were rolled out during last month’s bike month festivities as part of a “Bike at Work” initiative.

“We ended up collecting a whole bunch of old bicycles, took out the good parts and assembled three bikes from the good parts,” said Philo Shelton, the director of the Public Works Department. “We’re still working on doing a few more as they come in.”

The bikes were up-fitted for use by the county’s Fleet Division staff and are being kept in the bike corral at the Municipal Building. The department is looking to add additional units as they become available and is hoping to keep them at other county facilities.

The bikes are secured with a combination lock. If an employee wants to use one they simply check out the bike.

“We had one employee who had to go up the street to Fuller Lodge on business,” said Shelton. “In the time it would have taken him to walk out to the parking lot, get in his car, drive up to the lodge, find a parking space, get in and get his work done and then come back and find a parking spot he was already up there and back on the bike.”

Besides the convenience aspect, there are also environmental and physical benefits.

“Obviously you’re not using hydrocarbons to get from point A to point B,” said Shelton. “You’re also getting exercise which is another positive.”

Officials have also said that if the supply of bikes to refurbish allows, and demand from riders grows, the program could potentially be opened up for the public to use someday.