Aug 30, 2010 8:15 PM by Matt Stafford

Fixing bikes, hoping to fix lives

Peter Sprunger-Froese's Bike Clinic in Colorado Springs is filled with some of the lost and forgotten parts of bicycles that people thought showed no promise, but Peter brings them back.

"To bring life to these bikes, that are what we're trying to do here, says Sprunger-Froese, as he works on a mountain bike to get out the door. "And then give them away to homeless and financially challenged people."

Fixing broken bikes in hopes of fixing broken people.

"This becomes quite a viable option when people are in this set of circumstances." says Sprunger-Froese.

"They can get to those job interviews get to their work, get to the appointments that they need to get to," adds Steve Saint, executive director of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission. Saint says the commission is taking notice that transportation is one of the biggest hurdles the homeless are facing in finding and holding a job.

Officer Brett Iverson, with the Colorado Springs Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team, estimates that there are between 100 and 150 homeless still living on the streets in Colorado Springs.

Sprunger-Froese has been rebuilding bikes for the poor with his heart and his hands for 17 years, and has quite a waiting list. Now he's getting help from the Justice and Peace Commission by getting donated, slightly-used bikes.

"We can start getting those out to the people who need bikes right away and help that waiting list get paired down," explains Saint.

John Smith is homeless. He relies on his bike for a lot.

"It's my lifeline," Smith says. "Without that bike I wouldn't be able to go to work."

Smith says he's heard about the free bike program, and likes it. The big question for some is; Will people use the bikes, or just sell them?

When asked if he thought they would be sold, Smith doesn't see that being a problem.

"It could happen, but I really doubt it because the people that really need a bike, they're more sincere than the other ones," Smith explains.

Sprunger-Froese says in 17 years he can count on one hand how many bikes he has rebuilt have been sold to a pawn shop. That sounds like he's a pretty good judge of sincerity. However, he says his success doesn't come from being strict about who gets a bike and who doesn't, it's simply knowing who he's giving it too.

"It's more that we become friends," explains Sprunger-Froese.

Sometimes a good friend is all you need.

The Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission is collecting new bikes or ones in need of minor repairs at America the Beautiful Park every Wednesday, from 3 until 7 p.m. Also, they don't like to give a bike away without a lock, but don't have many locks on hand. They say donations of those would be a help. Donations are tax deductible.

For more information, call the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission at (719) 632-6189.


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