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Bikes for the World has a problem: Its bikes are too nice. The nonprofit’s mission is to collect donated bikes here and ship them over to Africa. It’s already sent more than 7,000 this year, says director Keith Oberg. The organization prefers to send mountain bikes, he says, considering that many roads in Africa make your average District streets look as smooth as a runway. Top-shelf road bikes, then, aren’t appropriate. Why send a thousand-dollar set of wheels across the Atlantic where it’ll just get trashed in a few weeks?
So the organization figured it would sell its best road bikes and use the cash to buy mountain bikes, parts, and whatnot to support its operation. Problem is, the lease it has for its free digs in the Waterside Mall doesn’t allow for retail.
The big sale was scheduled for Aug. 22. By 6:30 p.m., about a dozen people had already arrived to snap up a cheap bike, responding to a Craigslist posting. But then some customers got lost on the way and called mall security for directions. And that was it for the bike sale—security came by and shut down the fundraiser. Mall management could not be immediately reached for comment.
“This was gonna be an informal thing, but a lot of people showed up,” says Oberg. “I totally blew it. I hope I didn’t blow our lease.”
ADDENDUM, 5:03 P.M.: Oberg says that the management company called him to say there was no problem and that his lease is not in jeopardy. “Things are real cool,” he says. Management spokesperson Mara Olguin confirms that all is cool.