City seeks charity to run bike program

By Christina Sampson

October 11, 2012 - 12:59 pm
MPD Sgt. Hal Koozer with one of the bicycles "in custody" at the police department. Christina Sampson photo

The city is looking for a nonprofit group to repair and donate unclaimed bicycles found or confiscated by the Maricopa Police Department.

Police Chief Steve Stahl said his officers pick up three to five bicycles every month.

“It runs the gamut all the way from little kid bikes to adult 10-speed bikes,” he said.

Some of the bicycles have been involved in an investigation and are unclaimed. Others are found by residents.

The city auctions the bikes off for a minimal amount, usually about $10 a bike, but wanted to find a way to start “giving the bicycles back to the community,” Paul Jepson, assistant to the city manager, said during a recent council meeting.

“Our hope is that a local group steps up,” he said. 

The group would have to be a nonprofit, repair the bicycles, inform the city how it would advertise the program, verify eligibility and protect the privacy of the children and, finally, determine how to distribute the bikes. 

The city is not allowed to sell or donate the bikes because of liability issues. 

“These bikes are not always in the best of shape,” Jepson said. 

Some have been abandoned, possibly because they no longer work and others have been involved in accidents.

Stahl said legally the city could not sell the bikes individually; they would have to be sold in a lot.

Liability risks could be mitigated if the city repaired the bikes prior to selling them, but the selling price of the bike would not earn back the cost of staff time used to repair them. 

City Manager Brenda Fischer endorsed the concept of a nonprofit taking over the bicycles. 

“These kinds of programs really do take flight,” Fischer said. “I’ve seen this program put in place in other cities, and what happens is a lot of times it evolves.” 

Fischer said retail stores will partner with the nonprofit spearheading the program to donate parts and soon new bikes often are donated to the program.

For now, the city council approved soliciting charity groups interested in taking up the project. 

Interested groups can call Pattie LaCombe, purchasing manager for the city, at 520-316-6846 or email her at Patricia.LaCombe@maricopa-az.gov

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