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Youth En Route rolling out sustainable bike rack at Calgary Beer Fest

Frames from old bikes are finding a new life, with a Calgary non-profit committed to more sustainable travel options for city youth.

A process to recycle old bikes that has taken a few months to conceptualize and a few hours to build will finally be unveiled for use this weekend.

Youth En Route has taken old bike frames and created a reuse in the form of a new bike rack.

Laura Shutiak, executive director of Youth En Route, spoke about using broken bikes in interesting new ways.

“What we’ve realized is there are a whole lot of bikes and bike frames that land in the landfill,” she said.

“There’s opportunities to renovate and to restore bikes into something that’s usable.”

Youth En Route is an organization dedicated to championing active transportation to school and beyond. Since they started around two years ago, they have fought to break transportation barriers for students.

Shutiak said that if a bike frame is damaged, broken or dented, they don’t want students riding those bikes.

“But very often, those bikes are only broken on one side and you could still use them for other things. Hence, our idea of welding them to a frame and turning them into a bike rack,” she said.

Construction process done locally

To bring this vision to life, Shutiak reached out to metal worker Keith Simmons, President of SIMMONSwerks, to create a prototype.

Youth En Route expects to use this prototype as a stepping stone to selling these bicycle racks to local businesses and schools for around $1,000.

“If you were going to go out and buy one of those ‘U’ style racks, that one rack alone is $250. And then you have to install it. And then once you install those, they’re permanent, and they’re not movable at all,” she said.

“We think our rack is versatile, because it can be moved, or it can be secured to the ground, however the business wants it.”

Simmons also touched upon the design philosophy of these bike racks, and the functionality behind it.

“The one part that I think we may have executed a little bit better is that most of the other bike frames, it doesn’t really look like the way a bike would look. So I thought about how to make this thing functional, how to give it an appearance like some bikes that are parked,” Simmons said.

“I ended up doing the 50/50 look that you see there, half the bike set up one way, and the other half set up the other way.”

Simmons mentioned that the creative process didn’t take very long, as the whole process of welding and shaping took around 2 hours. Any design improvements would have to come in the future after the racks have been used.

Youth En Route plans to reveal this prototype at Calgary International Beer Fest this year, which takes place May 5 and 6.