A building in the historic Lemp Brewery complex in St. Louis, Missouri, partially collapsed on August 23, burying an estimated 700 bikes donated to St. Louis Bicycle Works. It’s a hard blow for the local nonprofit program, especially as people are relying on bicycles for transportation—or as a safe form of exercise and recreation during the coronavirus pandemic—now more than ever.
No one was inside the building when the collapse occurred. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the nonprofit’s executive director Patrick Van Der Tuin said he had recently reported loose bricks falling from the building and that caution tape was put up around the building last week. The building’s owner, Shashi Palamand, said that an engineer and masonry company had reportedly declared the building to be structurally sound within the past few weeks.
“During the pandemic, we’ve been storing even more bikes than usual at the Lemp facility, as well as working out of there for better social distancing. We are so grateful that no one was in the space when it collapsed,” BWorks said in its Facebook post.
St. Louis Bicycle Works is one of the charter programs of St. Louis BWorks—or BWorks for short. The organization was established in 1988, and runs an Earn-a-Bike program, where local kids—around 350 participate each year—learn about bicycle safety and maintenance and receive a bike upon finishing the program.
The building had served as the nonprofit’s main storage area for most of its donated bikes. According to the program’s Facebook post, around 350 of those bikes were already set aside for kids graduating from this year’s Earn-a-Bike program.
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“Another 200 adult bikes were destined for other local and international nonprofits to be used for transportation, and still another 100 adult bikes were to be refurbished and sold to help fund our nonprofit and keep our youth programs free to families in our community,” read the Facebook post.
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The rest of the building will be demolished, and there’s no word yet on how many bikes can be salvaged.
The building collapse is the latest misfortune for BWorks; just two weeks prior, the nonprofit’s Ford F-250 truck, which was used to transport bikes, was stolen.
Those who are interested in donating a bike can drop it off at BWork’s main location at 2414 Menard Street in St. Louis. You can also donate to St. Louis Bicycle Works by sending a check to their office (more information here) or through PayPal.
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