So Working Bikes is not exactly free, but they are awesome.
When my beloved bike was deemed "unsafe at any speed" last week, I panicked. I don't have the money to shell out for a new bike, or even for a new frame to build on, and I'd much rather bike than shell out $2.25 per trip for public transit while I can. Working Bikes came up in conversation with about three different people as I told my bike-less sob story: they take donated bikes and fix them up for sale three days per week at super-cheap prices. They then take the proceeds from the bike sales to send more fixed-up bikes to developing countries with a need for affordable transportation, as well as giving bikes to social service agencies in Chicago to help clients who might also need an affordable form of transportation.
I ended up getting a hand-me-down bike from my brother this week, so I didn't need to go buy a new one at Working Bikes, but I now had a full frame and a bunch of parts that I could either scrap or donate. I went to Working Bikes today to see if they'd take my structurally-compromised frame, or if I should just scrap it. Not only was the staffer the nicest possible guy, and assured me that my frame and parts could be put to good use, he then got me lunch at the seafood place next door as a thank-you. I want to write love letters to Working Bikes and post them all around Chicago, for real.