Today I got to combine a couple of my interests: cargo cycling and e-waste
recycling. Almost five years ago I helped found Richmond, Indiana’s Hardware
Co-op. The Hardware Co-op is a re-use and
recycling program for e-waste. The project has operated at a fairly small scale
until the last year, when we’ve been attracting more donors and volunteers.
Today the project had our first event presence– a booth at the local Earth Day
Our booth consisted of a thin-client demo lab, which showed
how some systems from the Windows-98 era can be made to perform at modern
speeds. It works by sending most processing to a server, like the old mainframe
systems with “dumb terminals”.
Using the Bikes-at-Work trailer seen the background of the photo above, I
carried over 3 desktop systems, a laptop, a 32 inch display and some other
supplies. While our booth was effectively two blocks from a parking lot, I
was able to roll the trailer through the door and right up to our booth. Had I
carried the equipment by car, several trips back and forth to the car would
have been required to get all the equipment inside.
Continue reading Computer Lab by Bike
With the maps back from the printer, it’s important to remember to send “Thank
Yous” to donors as well as mailing sample maps to everyone who contributed,
such as the organizations that granted me permission to re-use some text or
photo in the document.
My “Thank you list” includes the following the organizations:
- Cope Environmental Center
- Cycling and Fitness Warehouse
- Earlham College
- Earlham Bike Co-op
- Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County
- Ike’s Bicycle Shop
- National Road Heritage Trail
- Reid Hospital and Health Care Services
- Richmond High School
- Richmond/Wayne County GIS
- Rose View Transit
- Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau
- Wayne County Foundation
- Wayne County Surveyor’s Office
- The City of Albuquerque, New Mexico
- The City of Richmond, Indiana
- The City of Bloomington, Indiana
- The City of Calgary, Canada
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources
- Indiana Department of Transportation
- Indiana Bicycle Coalition
- WayNet, Inc
- Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc
Plus many more individuals not affiliated with one of the above organizations who provided valuable feedback or assistance:
- Anna Lisa Gross
- Barry Cramer
- Jim and Vicki Hair
- John Weber
- Steve Melamed
- Hopi Stosberg
Plus some others I’m forgetting, I’m sure. Thanks!
While I enjoyed the informality of bikerichmond.org, this meant there was no legal entity that checks could be addressed to, and we did not directly qualify for one mini-grant from the Wayne County Foundation that we could receive if we were a formal non-profit or a government organization.
I shopped around for organizations or city departments that could be a “fiscal sponsor”– someone who would receive checks from supporters and write the check to the printer, but won’t necessarily provide any funds on their own. Such a sponsor organization would also allow us be the recipient of some kinds of grants.
A contact within the city advised me that trying to use a city department for even this expense-free task could add more red tape than it was worth. So, although I would like the map to be a public project of the city, eventually, I continued to work outside the city for now.
Eventually, our local Cope Environmental Center agreed to be an organization sponsor for the project. I was up front them that I expected this to be a short-term arrangement. If Bike Richmond continues to have a financial life, it makes sense to becoming a formal legal entity.
Now that I had a map and I knew how much it would cost to print, I had to raise money to get it printed. Having the map essentially completely ready at this point was definitely as asset, as I could show the full size draft to potential funders, making the project very concrete and real.
My approach to fundraising was to build a distribution network and raise funds at the same time, by asking potential distributors if they would be willing to prepay 40 cents per map for maps that I would give to them to give out.
I successfully signed up seven funders for the project including a bike shop, a hospital, a college, tourism and economic development groups and our local community foundation. I always asked for specific amounts and most people gave me what I asked for, in the $200 to $400 range. Perhaps I could have asked individual funders for more, but having a few more funders meant a broader base of support, and a larger built-in distribution network.
In each case, I pitch the benefits and relevance to the specific organization. When possible, I tried to drop by and show off the map in person, although a lot of the fundraising was done with simple e-mails.
I did not promise anyone up front that they would get their logo on the map or even their name, and no one insisted on this. I didn’t want to end up with a document that looked like a hodge-podge of corporate logos, like those event t-shirts no one wears in public once the event is over. In the end, I gave all the supporter a subtle text-only mention, which I hope provides sufficient recognition while keep the visual focus of the document on the key content.
My first pass at guessing the cost of the maps was to ask nearby cities what they paid for theirs. I recall getting answers back in the range $1 to $3 per map. That turned not to be a very accurate way to predict my costs. Having an idea of what my specs would be and talking directly to printers turned to be to much more productive. I’m also glad I asked what 5,000 would cost to print when the answer I got back for 1,000 seemed expensive. The cost for 5,000 turned out to be less than double the cost of 1,000!
Here are the specs I used to talk to printers:
- 17″ x 22″ full color map, no bleeds,
- folded into 12 panels, (The same folded size as a tri-fold brochure)
- Printed on glossy, recycled paper (the gloss should help with rain resistance)
- Documents provided as high-quality, press-ready PDFs.
- Price points for 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000.
The size of the map required will vary some by the size of your city, and possibly with your budget. Albuquerque’s, for example, is a good deal larger than ours.
To get an idea of which printers could even handle printing and folding such a job, I asked around with other people that folded brochures in the community. The low quote was from Paust Printers, quoting $2,010 for 5,000 maps, about 40 cents per map.
That’s a bakfiets, (pronounced “bach feets”), a Dutch-made bike which recently started to be imported to the US.
For those who need haul kids or “stuff”, the bakfiets comes loaded with features that make it an attractive car replacement.
For kid hauling
This model comes standard with a bench seat for two children, including safety harnesses for both. Although difficult to see in the photo, the bottom edge of the bucket contains a step to make it easier to get in and out of the bucket. A super-sturdy four-point kickstand makes the bike totally stable as passengers enter and exit. And unlike a trailer, the kids have a commanding view of what’s going, and the parent can constantly keep an eye on them. It’s no surprise the Dutch royal family is known for carrying their own children around in a bakfiets. For rain and colder weather, a see-through cover is made as an accessory for the bucket.
For busy people. Real people.
A bike should work with your lifestyle, not the other way around. The bakfiets comes from a country with more bicycles than people, and practical bikes are understood there. So, it’s built to just get on and go. There’s no external gears to maintain. Eight gears are provided inside the wheel. The are no external brake pads to be serviced. Discrete drum breaks work reliably. A built-in lighting systems provides bright front and rear lights, powered by your pedaling, and still shining for a while after your stop. Greasy clothes are no worry. Fenders, an enclosed chain and even a skirt guard are all standard. Locking the bike now works like a car, with a reliable key-based system that disables wheel and is difficult to defeat.
To top it off, it includes puncture-resistant tires, a comfortable riding position and a pleasant sounding bell!