Answer man: How to unload old bicycles

News-DemocratJuly 23, 2013 

My friend has many old bicycles tucked away in her storage garage. She wants to get rid of them, but she wants to give them to a business or person who has the time to either take them apart for the parts or repair them for possible reuse. Any ideas? -- Mark Skaer

Although they may be far from Tour de France (or even Tour de Stooges) quality, the place I'd suggest pedaling them off to is the St. Louis BWorks in St. Louis. Not only will the bikes find new life, but your friend also will be riding ... er ... passing it forward in every sense of the term.

Begun as the St. Louis Bicycle Works in 1988, this nonprofit gives disadvantaged youngsters the chance to earn a free bike while they learn about bicycle safety and maintenance from the group's volunteers. About 350 kids graduate from the program every year, earning their own bike, helmet, light and lock.

In addition, St. Louis Bicycle Works also runs a bike shop, where anyone can purchase a fully refurbished bike with all proceeds plowed back into the St. Louis BWorks programs.

That's because bicycles now are only part of what it does. In 1996, the group introduced St. Louis Byte Works, a six-week computer course through which children can earn a desktop computer system. And, in 2011, it added St. Louis Book Works, which gives children the opportunity to write and illustrate their own books while working with volunteer editors. So now they're now known simply as Bworks.

The group accepts bikes of any kind and in any condition, and all donations (including cash) are tax deductible. Hal Leventhal, owner of Bicycle World in Belleville, remembers taking a trailer load of bikes over there a few years ago and being amazed by the size of the operation.

Its new location is at 2414 Menard St. between 7th Street and I-55 south of downtown. They're open noon to 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. But you also might call the Bike Surgeon in Shiloh (618-622-1693), which says it accepts bikes for Bworks, too.

For a list of other St. Louis bike shops that accept donations, go to or call 314-827-6640 during store hours.

A few of us were talking about the fire that destroyed The Hitching Post restaurant in west Belleville but we couldn't remember the year. -- D.L., of Belleville

At least three explosions shattered a quiet Saturday night when The Hitching Post, at 8901 W. Main St., went up in flames about midnight on Feb. 28, 1982.

Firefighters fought the blaze for five hours to save what little they could of the popular nightspot that was known as "a second country club" in the 1960s because of its clientele of lawyers and politicos. Fortunately, although its usually closing time was 2 a.m., it had closed early for reasons unknown and nobody was hurt.

A month later, officials labeled it an arson, saying a flammable liquid had been poured liberally throughout the building, leading to the fire's rapid spread and ferocity.

Please settle a bet: Do babies have to be named before they leave the hospital in Illinois? -- E.H., of Cahokia

In short, yes, they do, so the folks at Memorial and St. Elizabeth hospitals in Belleville hope their answer doesn't leave you with diaper duty for a month.

According to Chapter 410 of the state statutes, "When a birth occurs in an institution, the person in charge or his designated representative shall obtain and record all the personal and statistical particulars ... that are required to properly complete the live birth certificate."

This, of course, would include a name. The certificate then must be registered within seven days.

"However, the parents can name their child anything they choose," St. Elizabeth spokeswoman Kelly Barbeau noted. "Therefore, the baby could be listed as Baby Boy on the birth certificate, then changed by the parents at a later date for a fee of $15."

Today's trivia

Speaking of bicycles (and just because I was curious): What was Chris Froome's average speed over hill and dale during the just-completed Tour de France?

Answer to Tuesday's trivia: If you thought "emoticons" (those happy, sad or goofy faces you now frequently see in manuscripts) were a creation of the computer age, you'd be very wrong. In 1881, the satirical magazine Puck published what may have been the first four emoticons to indicate joy, melancholy, indifference and astonishment. Its intention, it said, was to have its letterpress department "lay out ... all the cartoonists that ever walked." And in 1912 writer Ambrose Bierce proposed the "snigger point," a new punctuation mark in the shape of a smile that would end every "jocular or ironical sentence."

Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or or call 239-2465.

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