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IU auctions 190 abandoned bikes

POSTED AT 11:40 PM ON Aug. 26, 2012  (UPDATED AT 12:13 AM ON Aug. 27, 2012)

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Sophomore Jake Wood and his girlfriend, sophomore Chelsie Hafler, didn’t expect to walk away from Saturday’s Office of Parking Operations bike auction with so many bicycles.

“We came to find me a bike,” Hafler said.

The couple stood next to a line of 21 bikes — some in good condition, some coated with mud and others in need of repair — leaning against the concrete wall of the Jordan Avenue parking garage.

“When I realized how cheap some of them were going for, we just decided to buy a bunch because it’s easy to flip,” Wood said. “I have a friend who actually has a bike business, and if I can’t sell any of them, he’ll take the parts and sell those.”

His entire haul cost him about $200. The most expensive bike he bought, one for Hafler, cost $55.

“If anything, I can sell them all for $10 and make my money back,” he said.

Twice a year, Parking Operations auctions bikes collected during the previous semester.

Some bikes were impounded after being parked against a tree, handrail or light post, Parking Manager Doug Porter said.

Porter said he believed most of them were abandoned on purpose, as they often have grass growing around the tires or are missing a quick-release wheel or seat.

Parking Operations employees remove the bikes from the racks and allow owners a 60-day grace period to claim their bicycles. The ones that go unclaimed go into storage and are sold at the auction.

“If we didn’t clean out the racks, the racks would slowly just accumulate bicycles more and more and more,” he said.

Saturday’s sale included about 190 bikes collected during the spring and summer 2012 semesters, almost twice as many as were sold at the spring auction in May.

Like many other auction-goers, German exchange students Maria Gerth and Sarah Ludwig-Dehm said they attended with hopes of finding cheap bikes. They each found one: a white Trek for $45 dollars and a mountain bike with a flat tire for $50.

The auctioneer, who Parking Operations hired to make the event more professional, Porter said, started most bids at about $20. Participants sometimes drove the bids higher. Often, particularly toward the end of the auction, the auctioneer accepted bids for much less than the starting price.

A Diamondback mountain bike sold for $15. A Trek mountain bike sold for $10. Wood acquired multiple bicycles for only $1.

“The money goes into the Parking Operations budget, and we’re usually the ones who are putting in new bike racks around campus,” Porter said. “We spend more on the bike racks than we make in the bike auction, so the money basically goes back to bike parking.”

Porter said he won’t be surprised if he sees some of the bikes sold Saturday at future auctions.

“We might pick up some of these bikes again,” he said. “Some of these people might ride it for a while and say, ‘I bought it for $25 at the auction.’”

 

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