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The Moab City Council voted on Tuesday, May 6 to donate nearly 100 unclaimed bikes currently in City Police inventory to the Grand County School District, which in-turn is giving them to Western Spirit Cycling for the third-annual Bike Swap and Rodeo.

“We’ve been trying to find more sources of bikes that aren’t being ridden that we can get out into the community,” said Ashley Korenblat, event organizer and co-owner of Western Spirit Cycling.

Each year, bike shops and tour companies throughout town contribute to fixing up donated kid-bikes to be given away on a first-come, first-served basis at the event. Last year, 30 bikes were given away in about as many minutes, Korenblat said.

The event has been successful with matching smaller bikes with small kids, “but it’s been challenging to get bigger bikes, and meanwhile there’s that stack of bikes behind the city building just rotting,” Korenblat said.

Cindy Montague, the administrative secretary with Moab City Police confirmed that there is “an excessive amount of bikes out there.”

Nearly 100 bikes, all abandoned or otherwise orphaned, have been sitting unclaimed in the City Police’s evidence inventory, some for as long as 12 years.

Montague said that the police take in about 5-to-10 bikes a month and reunite a bike with its owner only about 10 times a year.

“Amazingly, people don’t always report that they’ve lost a bike,” she said.

In fact, many of the bikes that are currently in the evidence inventory are repeat offenders. Faced with a large, unclaimed inventory, the police offered the bikes for auction years ago.

The bikes were separated into different piles – for people to bid on in bulk. Each pile contained bikes in an equal number and variety of conditions, good to horrible.

“What people did was take the good bikes and abandon the others,” Montague said. “So we’re recycling old bikes again.”

Though some of the bikes will undoubtedly be beyond usefulness, many will at least have some functioning parts.

“We cannibalize and mix-and-match until we get as many running bikes as we can,” Korenblat said.

The donation of the bikes for the upcoming rodeo is just one more way in which Grand County and the the City of Moab have been progressively becoming a bike-friendly community

Last fall, the city received official recognition from the League of American Bicyclists, a group that, among other things, lobbies Congress for funding to help towns across the U.S. create bike-friendly policies.

“A community recognized by the League as Bicycle Friendly welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodation for cycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation,” the League states.

Moab received the League’s silver designation.

“Meeting the criteria to the silver level is pretty dang good,” said David Olsen, the city’s community development director. “We’re a community that has done a lot for bike facilities, and there are all of the trails we’ve built, and the events we promote here.”

The primary drivers of this designation include the Grand County Trail Mix Committee, established in 2000 to serve as an advisory committee to the County Council. Trail Mix has built over 75 miles of single-track in the county.

The City of Moab has also contributed to the community’s non-motorized pathways with a “greenway” that meanders through town along Mill Creek.

And lastly, there is the North Moab Recreation Area Alternative Transportation System, which includes 10 miles of a paved, non-motorized pathway following U.S. Hwy 191 north and a similar 3-mile pathway along state Route 128 and the Colorado River. This year, the system also includes the new Lions Park transit hub.

If the city and county’s hard work pays off, the celebration event will also be when the community is granted the designation of being a Road Respect Community. A Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) program, Road Respect encourages awareness and respect between drivers and bicyclists on Utah’s roads.

A UDOT Road Respect forum and group ride will take place on Saturday, May 31, after the Bike Swap and Rodeo.

People can bring bikes to swap out for a different bike on the day of the event. A mechanics station will be available if people need help with their bikes, but event organizers ask that if a bike a person wants to swap is in need of a lot work, please drop it off at Western Spirit Cyclery before the event.

The bike rodeo will present different stations where young riders can learn about different places to go riding, healthy foods they can eat so that they can ride hard, and also how to change a flat.

“Because a lot of times a kid’s bike gets a flat, and they never ride again,” Korenblat said.

Maybe that’s how so many bikes ended up orphaned in the city police evidence inventory in the first place.

City donates about 100 bikes to school district for local event

Bikes to be donated can be left on the patio of Western Spirit Cycling, 478 Mill Creek Drive

The Bike Swap and Rodeo will take place at the Lions Park Transit Hub north of Moab with other ribbon-cutting celebration events on Saturday, May 31 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.