Fremont woman is the bicycle lady

Last summer when Mary Alejandro began fixing up bikes for her grandchildren, it wasn't long before kids in the Elliot Street neighborhood were asking for a bicycle, too.

Published November 19, 2007
by Farmers Advance

FREMONT — Last summer when Mary Alejandro began fixing up bikes for her grandchildren, it wasn't long before kids in the Elliot Street neighborhood were asking for a bicycle, too.

In the beginning, Alejandro was getting bike parts from Burns Iron & Metal Co. on North Front Street to fix up bicycles for her 21 grandchildren, who range in age from 4 to 16.

Now she has fixed and given away at least 40 bicycles not only to family but to the neighborhood children.

"None of this would have been possible without Burns," Alejandro said. "I wouldn't have had the money to pay for this stuff."

Alejandro began going to Burns to look for a damaged bike that were still in decent condition and from which she could remove parts. But if she found a good bike, she was allowed to take it and fix it to give to a child in need.

"It makes me feel so good to see them ride up and down the street," Alejandro said.

Chris Burns, an employee at Burns Iron & Metal Co., said they have been providing a pile of bike parts for Alejandro, and she takes it from there.

"We said 'Oh, just take it,'" Chris said. "She (Alejandro) does a good job."

Alejandro has had practice fixing bicycles because she used to fix them for her children.

"I fix things like flat tires, flat rims. … It has all been simple things," Alejandro said. "I haven't accomplished fixing hand brakes yet."

Marta and Xiomara Nieto are two of Alejandro's nieces that live down the street, and each received a bike.

Fifteen-year-old Marta said she helped her aunt find bikes and ended up with one herself.

"I think it's good what she is doing for the community," Marta said. "A lot of families can't afford bikes."

Alejandro also fixed 13-year-old Xiomara's bike.

"I appreciate her doing all the work she does for us," she said.

Alejandro said using an SOS pad to get the rust off the chrome can make the bicycle look new again.

"I always test drive (ride) the bikes before giving them away," she said, noting she makes sure the rims aren't bent and the tires have good tread.

Alejandro said she generally fixes a bicycle within a day, but sometimes it can take a day or two if she repaints it. If Alejandro ends up not using all the bicycle parts, she returns them to Burns.

E-mail Leslie Bixler at lbixler@fremont.gannett.com.