New bike racks are more than they seem

About a month ago, Life Scout Mitchel Anderson installed 10 new bike racks near the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard Headquarters.

With help from his parents, friends, the junior guard coordinator and city employees, the 15-year-old from Huntington Beach High School was able to install five U-shaped racks near Kokomo's Surfside Grill and five surfboard-shaped racks near the junior guard building. He will be dedicating the racks July 12 to the city and those who helped him.

"Everybody thought they were just an art piece. They didn't think they were bicycle racks," Junior Lifeguard coordinator Michael Eich said. "You could watch people taking pictures by them. And if you're down south a little bit, you can get your picture with the bike racks with the pier in the background. It's actually kind of a neat picture."

Mitchel's bike rack project was a task, specifically a community improvement project, he needed to complete to become an Eagle Scout.

"I saw the bike racks at the Huntington Beach Civic Center and I thought those were really cool," he said. "Then I remembered that I needed to do my Eagle Scout project, so I started doing research."

He said he contacted the staff at the Community Services Commission in June and they put him in touch with Dero Bike Rack Co., which built the custom surfboard racks found at the Civic Center.

Daina Anderson, Mitchel's mother, said he didn't want to put generic bike racks on the beach and also sought something similar to what was elsewhere in the city.

Mitchel added his own twist to the surfboard racks. As a former junior lifeguard, he wanted to pay respect to the organization and decided to paint each rack one of the five colors representing the five different ranks in the program.

Additionally, Mitchel added the Junior Lifeguard logo to the center of three of the racks while the other two bear the city's logo.

The original cost of the surfboard racks was $7,000, but with the help from the Saris Cycling Group, a bike rack builder, the price went down to around $3,000, Mitchel said.

It took him roughly 10 months to gather the money, he said.

"This project has taught me a lot about leadership and fundraising," he said. "Getting money is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be."

Mitchel said one of his donors, Jax Bicycle Center, went an extra step and donated the five U-shaped racks for his project.

Eich, who worked with Mitchel when he was a junior guard, helped Mitchel with the installation June 14.

He said he watched Mitchel mature as he worked on his project.

"This is a young man who's 15 years old and he's having to go out, make contact with people, talk with them and learn how to communicate and respond back and forth," Eich said. "He had to learn what business practices are."

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