The idea for THE GOOD BIKE PROJECT came to me as I was cleaning the windows of the OCAD U Student Gallery on Dundas Street West. I was lost in thought, staring at this old rusted Raleigh bicycle, which is locked up to the bike post outside the gallery. It occurred to me that I’d never seen that Raleigh moved from that spot. It is a permanent fixture on the street, a gorgeous skeleton of an antique bicycle long forgotten. While I continued to clean the windows, I thought about the bike and generated questions in my mind: Why had someone left such a beautiful bike behind? Who was its owner? How long had it been there? I began to feel sorry for it, and decided that Vanessa and I should reclaim it. The Student Gallery is on a grey, dismal strip of Dundas overwhelmed by cement and void of an greenery. Vanessa and I agreed to plant some flowers in bike’s basket. Soon the ideas escalated and we were on our way to buy several cans of neon spray paint.
On the only day that it wasn’t raining last week, I set myself to work on the Raleigh. I sanded it (a laborious task since the entire frame of the bike was covered in rust) and then I primed it. As the bike went from rusted brown to white, people began to ask me about it: What are you doing? Is it a memorial? etc. The long forgotten bike was creating some buzz. Once the primer was dry, I spray painted the bike in a neon orange colour that Vanessa and I picked out together at Montana Colours (also known as The Bomb Shelter).
Come late afternoon, the bike was glowing and so was I. It looked better than I had imagined. In fact, it looked fucking incredible (excuse me, but the F- word is absolutely necessary here). When Vanessa came by to see the finished result, the two of us danced around the Gallery squealing with pride and joy. We agreed that this would be the first of an ongoing project called “the really-fucking-cool-urban-street-project” — or just THE GOOD BIKE PROJECT.
Two days after the bike was completed it had been tagged and talked about more times than I can count. People stop outside to take photos. One father took a photo of it last week and brought his son back to see it in person. Another little boy told me I had a beautiful bike and that he wished he had an orange bike like mine. A woman shook my hand and thanked me for brightening the street. Two police officers came by on numerous occasions to see the transformation of the bike unfold. By the end of the day they were suggesting what types of flowers to plant in the basket and honking and waving as they rode by in their cruiser! The bike has propelled a wave of positivity and interest on the street and in the Gallery.
Yesterday, I arrived to the gallery with flowers ready to plant, only to find a notice from The City stapled to our bike. As it turns out, it’s illegal to store bicycles on public property; and so we have been given seven days to remove the bike. If we fail to comply, the bike will be taken away to be destroyed. The funny thing is that this bike has been sitting in the same place for months, unnoticed by The City; however, once it is brightened and made beautiful, it’s got to go. I am determined to save the neon bike that has clearly made so many people happy. Please help me by emailing your petition letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us why the neon bike is A GOOD THING, and why it should remain! We’ve got 6 days!!!!