Lewis Days, Durham’s “Bike Man,” has been profiled by the Herald Sun (see bottom of this post), Bicycling magazine, and now ABC World News.
Lewis H. Days, 74, is a hero to kids in his Durham, N.C., neighborhood, and one boy gave him a nick name that stuck — Bike Man.
“If I go to a grocery store and I see a kid and I ask him, ‘do you have a bike,’ and he tells me no, I say, ‘Well, you got one now.’ And I give him a bicycle.”
A retired maintenance man living on Social Security, Days doesn’t have a lot himself but he’s an expert on giving — his time, talent and passion for kids and bikes.
Days has been restoring broken or abandoned bicycles for years, making them as good as new, and giving them to children who don’t have one. He gives away up to 150 bikes each year. His granddaughter does the test driving.
Everyone in town knows the Bike Man — from the firehouse to the sanitation department to the dog pound.
And every Christmas he makes the rounds to firehouses, foster homes, churches, and the local Boys and Girls Club.
“Any time you see the smiling face of a child that you have given a bicycle to … I’m a soft heart. It brings tears to my eyes when I see a kid enjoy something that I have worked on,” Days said.
But this Santa’s not always a softie.
“I had one little girl down the street from me, she was cussing her mother. And her mother said she wasn’t going to get a bicycle, and I didn’t give it to her.”
But that doesn’t happen very often.
Ever since Days taught himself how to fix bikes when he was only 9, his rewards, like the bicycles, have only multiplied.
“The little fellow I gave the red bicycle to — that did my heart all the good in the world. To see him enjoy that bicycle, even though he couldn’t ride. But the fellow knowing that he did have a bicycle.”
“When I see a smile on their face, that’s a blessing … It’s a blessing that comes from up here,” Days said as he pointed to the sky.
Spry retiree keeps kids rollin’ with bikes he fixes up and gives away
By GINNY SKALSKI, The Herald-Sun
August 28, 2005 8:32 pm
images courtesy of The Herald Sun
DURHAM — When Lewis Days was a boy, his parents couldn’t afford to buy him
the bicycle he longed for.
So, at 9, Days took matters into his own hands.
He found an old frame in a ditch near Maplewood Cemetery and some wheels at
an old baseball field. It took about a month, but he finally built himself a
Now 72 and retired, Days still has bikes on the brain.
He spends his days on his front porch or hunched over his workbench in his
back yard, repairing bicycles for children from cash-strapped families.
Last year, he says, he restored 150 bikes that he gave away to neighborhood
youths at the John Avery Boys & Girls Club. He’s fixed up about 65 bicycles
so far this year, most of which were crammed into two spare bedrooms inside
his Fay Street house.
“I’m the neighborhood bicycle fixer,” Days says, spinning the front wheel of
a rusted beach cruiser flipped upside down on its banana seat and
handlebars. “I just get a kick out of working on them. This right here, I
can’t wait to get through with it and see how it looks.”
The former carpenter began mending bicycles in 2002 while working part time
as a van driver and security guard for the Boys & Girls Club. Many of the
used bicycles people donated to the club had flat tires or broken chains, so
Days began repairing them.
Now he works on his own, refurbishing used bicycles neighbors give him. Some
mornings, Days steps onto his porch and finds a bike sitting in his
driveway. He stockpiles many of the bikes he fixes and, come Christmastime,
turns them over to the Boys & Girls Club.
“It means a lot, because if they weren’t getting it from Mr. Days, there’s
no telling, they might not have one,” said Fred Bennett, director of
operations for the Boys & Girls Club.
Hazel Davis’ five-year-old granddaughter, Jada, was three when Days gave her
a pink bike with training wheels. When Jada visited her grandma on the
weekend, she would ride it up and down the driveway.
“I felt that it was a godsend, because the mom of my grandbaby could not
afford a bike for her, so that gave her an opportunity to have one,” Hazel
Days also fixes flat tires, replaces popped inner tubes and reconnects
broken chains for bike riders. He says he doesn’t profit from the repairs
because he doesn’t charge for some of the supplies he uses.
“Sometimes you come out on the short end,” Days said.
Since he’s on a fixed income, financial worries sometimes creep into his
thoughts, Days says. Instead of getting worked up about it, he turns to his
“It’s just something to keep my mind occupied,” he said. “If something
starts to worry me, gets on my mind, I go and get a bicycle.”
One thing Days doesn’t want to worry about is a child getting hurt while
riding a bike he’s given away. So when neighborhood children come calling
for a free bike, he urges their parents to buy them helmets.
Christmas isn’t the only time Days acts like Santa Claus.
When the Albright community association sponsored an Easter egg hunt earlier
this year, six plastic eggs contained a voucher for a free bike.
“It’s a big inspiration to a lot of the youth because they did not have a
bike, they wanted one and many times the parents was not able to purchase
one for them,” said association president William Thomas.
Even the city’s Impact Team has pitched in to help Days.
The team, which cleans up illegal dumps, sets aside bikes or bike parts it
comes across, then delivers them to Days’ house. Days has barrels and bags
in his yard filled with old bike seats, tires and other parts.
“It reduces the city cost to put them in the landfill,” said city
spokeswoman Amy Blalock.
To make sure he puts those used parts on correctly, Days takes off down his
driveway on every bike he fixes — except for the itty-bitty ones made for
“They want to call me ‘bike man,’ ” Days said. “I say, ‘I’m Lewis.’ “