Profile Response: Bob Giordino, freecycles, Missoula, MT

HWWLT Logo on yellowWhen I walked into freecycles I couldn’t figure out whom I was supposed to talk to. Then I realized that was the point. There are people fixing bikes, people watching people fixing bikes, people giving advice to people fixing bikes, and people picking through all kinds of junk – excuse me, parts – that might be useful in fixing bikes.

Twenty years ago, or so, freecycles started in Missoula. Bob Giordino has been there entire time. It would be too restrictive to call him the boss, or even the manager. Let’s just call him the constant. (In fact, Bob is the founder and Executive Director of  MIST, The Missoula Institute of Sustainable Technology, but I learned that from others, not him).

FullSizeRender-1freecycles is nothing more than a cooperative bicycle repair garage, and nothing less than a Utopian vision of how we should all live tomorrow. It’s spacious and messy, friendly and confusing, organized and chaotic. Bob’s eyes dart about the garage looking for people who might need guidance in truing a wheel or greasing a chain. When he’s content that all is fine at the mechanical level, he turns his attention back to me.

imgres“We are going to change how Missoula’s streets are organized. Have you seen the traffic circles at intersections? They were our idea. There are sixty small circles in town and five full-scale roundabouts. There are two to five accidents with bicycles at every traffic light in the city every year. There have been none – none – at roundabouts.”

FullSizeRender-3He shows me a diagram pinned to the wall. “We are going to put the streets on a diet. Where there are four lanes of traffic, we are going to take them to three – one each direction plus a left turn lane. We are going to make bicycle lanes in each direction with the extra pavement.


IMG_3485 IMG_3483 IMG_3486

“Here’s our agenda for the city,” he pulls a small chalkboard off a table and reads the list. “Grow bikes; that means make them from plant material. Road diets; I already explained that. Pick axe asphalt; we need to get rid of that stuff. Portable toolboxes; we need bike repair materials throughout the city. Oh, and we’re trying to raise a million dollars to buy this building. I forgot to put that on the list.”

How will we live tomorrow?

FullSizeRender-2“This is it. It’s all on the board. Let the bikes take over. The world will be a better place.”

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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2 Responses to Profile Response: Bob Giordino, freecycles, Missoula, MT

  1. Gorman, Cleo says:

    There’s a cyclying co-op, similar to the description in your post, in Birmingham.
    My husband bought my daughter’s bike there and has been there to have some things repaired.
    I love this guy’s philosophy!
    He sounds a lot like you.


  2. paulefallon says:

    Actually, since you mention it, we are similar. Funny how I never ‘get’ people who are like me until others point them out.


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