Batavia police may turn unclaimed bicycles over to a charity rather than sell them, under a proposal aldermen discussed Tuesday.
The Batavia Bicycle Commission has asked for the bicycles, which would be refurbished and given to low-income children and adults.
The proposal would apply only to bicycles valued at $100 or less.
"It sounds like an excellent program," City Administrator Bill McGrath told the joint committees of the whole.
There are about 40 bicycles in the police department's evidence storage area. About half are due to be sold soon through an online auction. Police have to wait six months before they auction off unclaimed bicycles.
"The amount of money we get is absolutely negligible," McGrath said.
According to evidence technician and police property manager Fred Buss, there have been times when people have bought the lot for $20 or $30.
Recipients of the free bicycles would have to register them with the police department. McGrath said police could return more recovered bicycles to owners if the bikes' serial numbers were registered. Registration is free.
Bikes end up with the police several ways. They are recovered during investigations into theft. Some bicycles are left behind by thieves who have traded up to a better ride, Buss said.
Bikes get pulled out of the Fox River. And some, such as one bearing a hand-lettered "free" sign, were left at the curb by owners hoping someone would take it off their hands.
The bicycle commission gives bicycles to people recommended by principals and social workers at Batavia public schools, and by the resident service coordinator at Batavia Apartments. The commission works with the CHIP IN Batavia group, which helps poor and homeless students and their families.
"We knew that there was a need for bikes for the community, and we knew of the surplus," said Dave Pedersen, a member of the commission.
It has given away 17 bicycles this year, donated privately. The All Spoked Up bicycle shop donates the labor to repair the bicycles, and a $750 donation from the Batavia Rotary Club pays for parts.
"Not only are they helping children, but they have also changed the lives of some adults," Pedersen said.
In one case, a man was grateful for a bicycle because it would provide reliable transportation to his job, and it also enabled him to take on a second job, Pedersen said.
The committee voted 11-0 in favor of the idea and will vote on a formal resolution Aug. 5.