The Bike Man keeps giving back to Durham

by Mallory Darida
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

Lewis Days’ house stands out from the rest in Northeast Central Durham.  Rather than flowers or plants, his front yard is decorated with bicycles.  But Days doesn’t keep the bicycles for himself; he is a passionate giver to the people of Durham.

Lewis Days stands outside his home, which has been turned into a workshop for bicycles. People give their used and damaged bikes to Days for repair, which he donates to people in need. (Staff photo by Mallory Darida)

“I’ve said I’m quitting every year,” Days says with a smirk. “But I haven’t quit yet.”  Repairing used bikes and giving them to people in the community became a passion for Days in 2002.

As a child, Days began fixing bikes because he says he couldn’t afford a new one. He recalls a neighborhood boy, whose father owned a grocery store, seemed to get a new bike every week.  After the boy threw his slightly damaged bikes into a ditch, Days would recover and fix them.

Much later, after serving in the Marine Corps, Days returned to Durham and found a job at John Avery Boys and Girls Club.  Working as a security guard and van driver, he noticed that people often donated bicycles.  Most only needed a few repairs, so Days took them home to fix.

Upon his retirement, Days brought more bikes home to repair and gave them back to John Avery.  Eventually, he started donating bikes to Social Services and the firehouse as well.  People in the community began referring to Days as “the Bike Man” and “the Spokesman.”

Lewis Days, known as the Bikeman, fixes a bike outside his home in Durham. He repairs hundreds of bikes every year to donate to people in the community. (Staff photo by Mallory Darida)

John Schmelzer, who donates bikes to Days, says,“it is wonderful to have someone like this in the community. This is his life’s joy: making people happy.”

Two years ago, Days gave away approximately 100 bikes.  Last year, he donated 250. This year, he expects the number to increase.

Days keeps many of the bikes in a shed in his back yard, but also keeps some inside.  Two entire bedrooms in his house are piled high with girls’ and boys’ bikes.

“I ride just about every bike that I fix,” Days said. “My granddaughter rides the smaller ones to test them out.” Most of the bikes only need air in their tires or their wheels straightened out, but he also spruces some up with paint jobs.

The Exchange Club of Durham and the Exchange Club of Greater Durham awarded Days with the Book of Golden Deeds on May 24.  The award recognizes people who selflessly serve their community.

In order to avoid being taken advantage of, Days requires that people bring their children with them when picking up a bike.  People have stolen from Days in the past, but he refuses to let that hinder him from giving. Days truly hopes that people will benefit from the bicycles that he gives away.
“At least they know someone cares about them and loves them,” he said.
Dorothy Kelly, president of the Albright Community Association, said that Days donated six bicycles and helmets as prizes at the Albright Park’s play day in August.

He also plans to give bicycles to adults at the Durham Rescue Mission.

“I’ll give bikes to people who are getting their lives together, “ he says. “That way, they will have a way to get back to work.”

Days says he loves the feeling he gets when giving a bike away.

“I’m a big old crybaby,” Days admits.

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