Archive for October, 2014

Cycling infrastructure: Bike boxes!

Monday, October 27th, 2014

By AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton

In the world of bike infrastructure, a bike box is used at an intersection as a designated area for bikes to wait in front of cars at a red light. Ideally they are marked in a different colour (often green), to stop cars from entering the bike box at a red light.

Bike Box-3

The bike box is meant to reduce the number of incidents between cars and bikes. Bike boxes:

  • prioritize cyclists on shared roads
  • increase the visibility of cyclists on shared roads
  • prevent cars from turning right at red lights, reducing “right hooks”
  • reduce incidents of cars sideswiping cyclists and cutting cyclists off
  • reduce the chance that a cyclist will “pop out of nowhere” when a driver is making a right-hand turn
  • make it easier for cyclists to make left-hand turns

The proper way to use most bike boxes is to treat the bike and car lanes as normal traffic flow lanes while the light is green. When the light is yellow or red, cyclists can begin to pile up inside the bike box. If used properly, bike boxes create safer shared streets.

Safely merging with car traffic as a cyclist can still be problematic, even when a bike box is installed, but on the whole, bike boxes help to reduce ambiguity as to when and where cars should stop behind cyclists at traffic lights on shared roads.

Bike boxes are a great addition to cycling infrastructure in cities, but they are just one small part of the paradigm shift that needs to happen so that the safety of cyclists is prioritized over efficiently for motorists.



The Bike Kitchen is hiring an experienced mechanic

Friday, October 24th, 2014

The Bike Kitchen is hiring for a half-time position that begins as soon as possible. We are looking for an experienced mechanic to hit the ground running. Shop experience or established mechanical training is a must. Applicants should be able to do service-writing and full tune-ups. Wage will be based on experience.


  • The shop is run as a worker’s collective, which provides a lot of freedom to make changes and implement ideas.
  • Accessibility, sustainability, and inclusiveness are more important to us than the financial bottom line.
  • Our do-it-yourself ethic means that our mechanics fulfill many different roles with co-workers, customers, and distributors.


  • The primary goal of the Bike Kitchen is to serve the community, so we don’t always function as a regular commercial bike shop. Patience and effective communication skills are a must!
  • Our diverse clientele encompasses recreational riders, avid commuters, and high-end road/mountain bike riders.


  • strong mechanical skills
  • exceptional social skills
  • a commitment to teaching bike mechanics
  • demonstrated appreciation of, and commitment to, the values of the grassroots cycling movement, including environmental sustainability and social justice
  • the ability to work harmoniously and respectfully with a diverse range of people

We hope that you will continue to develop and learn as a mechanic in our shop, but this is not a training position.

Please email your application – including a cover letter, resume, and references – to



Bike to Work Week: Next Week!

Friday, October 24th, 2014

So: it’s late October, it’s rainy, and school is busy. It is, therefore, the perfect time of year to get a little boost of encouragement to keep choosing active forms of transportation to get from home to school, from school to work, from work to home.

From Celebration Stations, to the chance to win $15,000 of amazing cycling prizes, Vancouver’s Bike to Work Week is a little ray of sunshine for you and your bicycle. (I had a conversation with your bicycle, and it does not want to stay in the hallway of your apartment this winter.)

photo (2)

Sad, apartment-bound bicycles

Your bicycle and I would like to encourage you to register for Bike to Work Week, and also visit the Bike Co-op after work/school next Tuesday — we’ll be hosting a Celebration Station at the Anglican Church on University Boulevard from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If you need fenders, drop by the Kitchen and we’ll help set you up; if you’d like more explicit tips about biking in the rain, check out this poster, or watch this handy video.

Happy Cycling!



Fall General Meeting: November 4th!

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Are you a Bike Co-op Member? Attend our Fall General Meeting and get an inside baseball look at our organization. You’ll be rewarded with snacks and a chance to vote on important issues that guide the direction of our bike-loving organization.

  • Date: Tuesday, November 4
  • Time: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Location: The Bike Kitchen
  • Pizza: YESSSS

Following our speedy, efficient, pizza-proffering Fall General Meeting, we will head to Koerner’s Pub for some (free but not all-you-can-drink) bzvzrages.

Note: P&Y will be cancelled for Tuesday, November 4.

Although RSVP’ing isn’t required, if you’re a Facebook using individual, you can let us know you’re coming on the Facebook Event – feel free to share it with your friends!

**Update!** There’s also an agenda posted now, in case you’re curious – See below!**

FGM Agenda

  1. Quorum Check
  2. Approve Agenda
  3. Reports
    1. Program Report
    2. Board Report
    3. Treasurer Report
    4. Bike Kitchen Report
  4. Approval of Constitutional Amendments
  5. Election of New Board Members
  6. Meeting Adjourned
    Beverages @ Koerner’s pub to follow!

Proposed Constitutional Amendments (proposed changes are in bold type)
• Article 6.1.d: up to twelve (12) [SIX (6)] Board Members at Large

• Article 9.1 Unless otherwise stated, the quorum for all general meetings shall be 10 percent (10%) of the Regular membership of the Club excluding [INCLUDING] the members of the board or twenty (20) [FIFTEEN (15)] Regular members, whichever is less.



We’re hiring a new Programs Manager!

Friday, October 10th, 2014

The Bike Co-op is hiring a new Programs Manager to oversee our community outreach, volunteer and educational programs!  If you love cycling, and you want other people to love cycling as much as you do, this could be the job for you!  We’re looking for a candidate with strong leadership skills and a background in management and administration, with a strong dedication to sustainability and social justice.  If that sounds like you, please send your application by email to programs(at), to the attention of Jean-François Caron, Vice-President, AMS Bike Co-op.  We look forward to hearing from you!


Hours per week: 37.5
Compensation: $35,000 – 40,000 annually commensurate with experience.

Anticipated start date: November 10, 2014

Application deadline: October 20, 2014

The Programs Manager (PM) of the AMS Bike Co-op directs programs and outreach to engage the community in cycling education and promote biking as a safe and sustainable means of transportation. Located at the University of British Columbia, the AMS Bike Co-op is governed by a student Board of Directors, who oversee and guide the vision and mission of the Bike Co-op. The Programs Manager oversees operations and works closely with the Bike Kitchen Manager (BKM) to provide accessible cycling programs and services to the community.

The Programs Manager acts as the management and administrative core, holding a leadership role in supporting the long-term development and growth of the Bike Co-op. Focusing on the portfolios of Education and Outreach, the Programs Manager strives to build strong community-based programming, provide learning and personal growth opportunities for students and community members, and spread awareness of cycling and its benefits for community health, sustainability and social justice.

● 2-3 years management and/or leadership experience
● Experience managing staff, including hiring, scheduling and supervision
● Experience with volunteer management and engagement
● Experience with community program development, administration and facilitation
● Understanding of and commitment to anti-oppressive values and social justice
● Excellent organizational skills, including database and record keeping
● Experience with budgeting and financial oversight
● Experience with grant writing, with proven experience at successfully obtaining
funding and following through on documentation and reporting deliverables
● Knowledge of the cycling community
● Strong interpersonal skills and an ability to understand and appreciate different perspectives
● Strong, professional communication skills (both written and verbal)

● Experience working with post-secondary students
● Experience working with non-profit organizations
● Experience with basic bookkeeping
● Experience with web editing and design
● Experience with Adobe Design Suite
● Experience using CiviCRM or similar database program
● Knowledge of basic bike repair

Position Duties
The typical office hours for the Programs Manager are Monday-Friday, 10 am – 6 pm. Some evening and weekend work may be required. The successful candidate must be available on Tuesdays from 5 pm – 6 pm for regular meetings.

General Management

Employee Management
• Supervises the work of the Bike Co-op’s Work Study positions, employees that are hired by the Bike Co-op (not including the Bike Kitchen)
• Manages human resources procedures for the Bike Co-op. Coordinates employee
hiring processes and job descriptions. Leads administration of hiring processes.

Volunteer Management
● Supervises and provides support for the Bike Co-op’s volunteer leaders
● Manages general volunteer base, including training, communications, scheduling and volunteer records

Programs Management
● Provides general oversight to all Bike Co-op programs and services to ensure
they are running effectively and to their fullest potential
● Coordinates registration for Bike Co-op workshops
● Schedules programs and outreach activities based on facility, volunteer, staff and funding availability
● Meets regularly with the Bike Kitchen Manager to coordinate daily operations and programming needs

Service and Resource Management
● Manages inventory and bookings for the Bike Co-op’s services including the trailer bikes, loaner bikes and resource library.
● Manages maintenance and trouble call requests for the bike lockers and bike cages services. Does shared administrative duties with other Bike Co-op staff.
● Receives Cycling Initiative Grant applications on behalf of the Board of Directors. Manages communications with applicants and coordinating supporting documentation.


Data Management in CiviCRM
● Maintains the Bike Co-op’s database, ensuring it is up-to-date and arranging for service when needed
● Maintains all records in CiviCRM and trains new staff/volunteers to use the system

● Works in coordination with the Treasurer in coordinating the annual operating budget
● Maintains internal bookkeeping system, keeping detailed records of all expenses and incomes
● Leads grant application processes for core funders
● Coordinates any necessary reporting/documentation deliverables for successfully obtained grants.
● Liaises with external contractors and ensures work falls within budget.

External Relations
● Acts as primary contact for external organizations, including cycling advocacy groups, UBC departments and the AMS.
● Acts as a resource to connect Board Members to community partners, facilitating collaboration when relevant and supporting and assisting with projects as needed.
● Liaises with relevant groups to increase awareness of the Bike Kitchen and Bike Co-op and manage collaboration.

Strategic and Operational Planning
● Meets regularly with the President, Vice-President and Bike Kitchen Manager
to coordinate operations and strategic, long-term planning.
● Provides guidance on strategic planning to the Board of Directors, advising on feasibility of projects and initiatives.
● Coordinates the Annual Report, which reflects strategic and operational growth for the prior year, as well as additional quarterly reports as needed.

Discretionary duties and other duties as assigned

To apply for this position, please submit your cover letter and résumé by email to programs(at), to the attention of Jean-François Caron, Vice-President, AMS Bike Co-op.



Bike Kitchen closed Oct. 11-14 – No P&Y!

Monday, October 6th, 2014

The Bike Kitchen and AMS Bike Co-op are closed for service and regular programming for the Thanksgiving weekend (and some anti-oppression training for staff and co-op board members on Tuesday) from Saturday, October 11 to Tuesday, October 14.

P&Y volunteer night is cancelled for Tuesday, October 14.

We’ll be back for regular 10am – 6 pm hours on Wednesday, October 15.  Have a great (anti-Colonial) Thanksgiving! 



Meet a Co-op Board member: JF!

Monday, October 6th, 2014

JF is the current Vice President (as well as the past President and former P&Y coordinator) of the AMS Bike Co-op. We sat outside in the sunshine last week, listening to a fellow play the piano outside the SUB, and talked about feminism, impending ecological catastrophe, and weird bikes.


How did you first get involved with the AMS Bike Co-op?

I came here in 2006, and I started the first semester I got here for grad school, and I’ve actually been at the Bike Co-op ever since. I don’t remember what month it was, but the fall of that year, I found a little flyer on the ground for Purple & Yellow saying that there was free pizza, and at the time I was trying to find all the free food on campus. That was the initial draw – hey, bikes, I can do that, and also free pizza!

I was also new in town, and I didn’t have that many friends, and honestly I was looking to meet women. Probably not the right motivation nowadays for me.

Did you meet your partner at the Bike Co-op?

No, as it turns out.

Once I arrived, and volunteered and got to know people, I think my attitude changed quite a bit because I was right away exposed to different kinds of ideas that I wasn’t used to thinking about before, like positive space, different kinds of people, just the fact that there’s a lot of queer people at the Bike Co-op. I mean, this was a long time ago for me, it feels. I was a much different person, I was much more of an asshole, at the time I wouldn’t have identified as pro-feminist like I do now. My behavior was was worthy of criticism back then. But I was able to grow out of it, and I think the Bike Co-op was actually a big part of that.

You’ve recently gotten into Randonneur rides. What do you like about them?

I’ve always been into endurance sports, even if they’re competitive. I never liked the direct racing kind of competition, head to head I guess, I liked the idea of “This is a really hard thing, and if you can do it, that’s already pretty awesome. Also we’ll time you.” I like that idea. Possibility because I think I’m good at it, and I don’t like losing. And I feel like, if I was going to do a cycling sport, the style and attitude that the randonneurs have is much closer to what I have in my head than, say, road racing or track racing. Closer still would probably actually be cyclo tourists, but that tends to be a much less organized thing. I basically had already been doing a lot of day tours on the order of 100, 150, 200 kilometres, and then I did the Populaire rides one year, and this year I tried their official 200k, and one 300k. It’s an interesting challenge. I’m still not convinced whether I enjoy it enough to keep doing it, cuz they’re really hard, and they take all day, and then you sometimes have to drive to Langley to start your 15-hour day. I can see why there’s a lot of retired folks who do it.

What did you find the most challenging thing to learn/master when it comes to basic bike mechanics?

The biggest barrier, learning curve, was actually the words. Just the proper terms for tools and parts. It’s unreasonable how confusing it is as a beginner to be struggling with stuff, and then to be told, “oh no, that’s not a freewheel, that’s a cassette.” You’re like, what the fuck? Why is that different?!

When I’m teaching new people I try my best to use the correct language but also not insist that they use the correct language, and when there is a reason for a different term I’ll explain the reason. So I explain why it’s called a freehub and a freewheel – the free part means the ratcheting part, and that’s how I understand it.

What’s your favourite bike tool?

This probably harkens back to my earlier days that I was referring to. It’s not a bike-specific tool but I actually just like using the reamer. I like the word, too. It sounds violent, in a not-against-humans way. Here’s this piece of metal, and I’m going to bend it with my will and muscles!

What do you think the largest barrier to cycling is for folks in this city? How can this barrier be removed/ameliorated?

Honestly the biggest barrier would be geography, which we can’t remove. The weather in the winter is a huge thing. It sucks, riding in the rain, if you don’t have all the right gear. And the gear is expensive. And you’re still going to get wet. Riding in the summer is easy because you just park your bike outside and walk in, but if you’re in the winter, you need a place to dry your stuff. It’s not just the stuff – your office or work or whatever needs to accommodate the fact that you need to dry a whole bunch of stuff. But we can’t change the weather, obviously. And yeah, the hills. Vancouver’s a rather hilly city for one that’s trying to be bike friendly. I know it’s not impossible, because San Francisco is apparently reasonably bike friendly and they’re even worse than us. Because of that barrier, I see places like Richmond – they could really be a bike haven, because it’s so flat! There aren’t actually any hills in Richmond. They could be the bike capital of Canada if they wanted to!

Until they flood away into the ocean.

Right. Yeah.

So unfortunately we can’t remove those barriers, so I’ll re-answer the question with barriers that our society can address. I think a big part of it actually attitudinal. I mean yes, infrastructure, people always talk about separated lanes, safety, end of trip facilities. But people are already working on that, and what people don’t often talk about is the change in behavior that’s necessary. And this is part of my greater philosophy on a sustainable future – we’re just going to have to eventually make do with a whole lot less stuff and more effort on our parts to just live our lives. We’ve grown accustomed to all this convenience, and it’s not always going to be around.

Our current standard of living in the part of Canada that I experienced is buoyed, is floating on top of systematic resource extraction and human resource extraction across Canada and the world. Eventually we’re going to have to be able to get around in our cities with our muscles. Our cities are huge and walking is really slow, so bikes are a great way to do that.

The Co-op does a lot of different kinds of programming, from P&Y to workshops to CRCs to social rides, outreach and advocacy. Is there an area of our programming that’s closest to your heart?

Purple and Yellow, for sure, because it is so integrated in how we think, and what our image of ourselves is. I couldn’t imagine the Bike Co-op without Purple and Yellow. Even if it’s not always the most effective program. Sometimes the attendance dwindles to nothing, sometimes the fleet dwindles to nothing, but it’s always around. I mean it’s why we were founded, and it’s still the main method by which we attract volunteers and committed people, and it’s a great way to teach. It’s got everything! It’s a low-barrier entrance to the world of maintaining bikes in a friendly, positive atmosphere.

In your years with the Co-op, how do you think things have changed and grown? What have we learned, and what could we do better?

Well, when I first started, the Bike Co-op and the Bike Kitchen were not friendly to each other. Sometimes there were fights between them. Not like, physical fights, but just like who’s entitled to what space. Right? Like there would be boxes left in the back from a big order, and then we’d have to have a meeting, and I’d want to complain about how there were all these boxes, and that would come back as yeah, but you left P&Ys all over the place. It was the wrong attitude. It was my space versus your space. One of the things that’s changed over the years is we’ve very much grown into our space.

We’ve increased our public visibility tremendously. It’s still not great for what we want to be, but people have actually heard of us now before they walk in. Whereas you used to have to find the place on your own. Our approachability of the shop in particular – the Kitchen used to have a reputation for being a confrontational place. You’d walk in, and people would judge your bike as unworthy, and not want to talk to you, apparently. And now we get positive reviews on Yelp. We have a Yelp account!

For the Co-op side, we’ve definitely grown in our capacity. And we’ve grown in our respectability. A different co-op could have grown in a much more radical and confrontational way, with relation to say the university, whereas we’ve grown more in a collaborative sense with the university. Which is a good thing, I think. The fact that we’re managing UBC programs really establishes a foothold in the community. But at the same time it means that we’re not able to do the kind of radical activism that some people might want. Like apparently in the 90s there weren’t any bikes allowed on University Boulevard, and there was a big bike-in protest that eventually got bike lanes installed. I don’t think we could do that type of thing anymore. I don’t think we could stage a protest.

I think there’s room for a different kind of bike organization on campus or in Vancouver, and it’s not us.

You’ve got a bit of a reputation around here for building weird bikes. Could you talk about your favourite weird bike build?

Every time I ride my homemade tandem, where I just welded two bike frames together, I’m still impressed at how good of a job I did. Honestly it could have just turned out terrible. It’s still not a good bike, but the fact that it actually works is pretty fun. But I don’t actually ride it that often, so I have to stay that I appreciate my campus cruiser better, with the little wheels and the giant fork and the now-reversed drive. Have you seen the –


Yeah, so I’ve got retro-direct – two freewheels. You can pedal backwards and it goes forwards, and you can pedal forwards and it goes forwards.

To get different gears without a derailleur, right?

Except the two freewheels are off by one tooth. It’s essentially the same gear. But also currently the forwards doesn’t work too well, so I just pedal backwards.

Can you coast?

Yes. You can coast, but you can never roll backwards, because then both freewheels engage. So it’s a bit hard to get it out of a bike rack. You kind of have to pick it up instead of rolling it out.

Interesting. So weird.

You can try it afterwards.

I’m scared. But more of the fork.

Yeah, that is the worst part. The unstable steering. Most bikes, if you ride, they will sorta go in a straight line. This one actively wants to throw you off the bike. If you let it go, it will just turn right. 90 degrees.



Meet a Mechanic: Anastasia!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Hello Bike Co-op blog readers. Have you ever wanted to know more about the folks who help you fix your bicycle, or run P&Y night, or teach Intro to Mechanics? Well, now’s your chance. We’ll be running monthly profiles of Bike Kitchen mechanics, starting with the newest member of our team.

Anastasia went through the Bike Kitchen mechanics internship in the summer of 2014. The internship is designed to start from scratch, introducing the nuts and bolts and bearings of everything mechanics-related; interns often join the Bike Kitchen as junior mechanics after they go through the program.


What drew you to the Bike Kitchen mechanics internship?

Anastasia: My partner lives in Vancouver, and it just so happens that I had been to two annual meetings for the Bike Co-op without ever having been in the space, or done any bike work whatsoever and I really, really loved the people, and I loved the atmosphere, and I loved the energy that was in this place.

What do you think the largest barrier to cycling is for people in Vancouver, and how can we work to start to overcome that barrier?

Anastasia: I think cars are really scary. That’s the hardest thing for me. Especially after being hit, it’s really hard to get on the road again. I don’t think people know how to interact with bikes safely and I don’t think that bikes necessarily know how to interact with cars and pedestrians safely. It’s like, when am I next going to hit somebody. It’s a when, not an if. Having some kind of – I think it’s been done here before – how to cycle workshop, safety rules and things like that. If that information could become common knowledge for drivers, and pedestrians, too, I think that could be helpful.

What’s your favourite bike tool?

Anastasia: This is the question I’ve been having the hardest time with. How am I supposed to pick one? Cuz some of them are just really useful. The little sets of hex wrenches, all in one, I like those. And then the cable puller is also really useful, and I would not want to do bike mechanics without the cable puller. [Tamara, the Bike Co-op president, agrees vigorously from across the room.] And my favourite thing to do on bikes is to overhaul them, but there isn’t really a specific tool for that, I just really enjoy doing it.

[POST-INTERVIEW EDIT: Anastasia says her favourite tool is the blowtorch. “Definitely the blowtorch.”]

What have you found, over the course of your internship and now working as a mechanic at the shop, to be the most challenging thing to learn or master when it comes to basic bike mechanics?

Anastasia: Brakes. Brakes are really hard. Conceptually, I had a hard time with them, and once I got the theory behind it, then it was a lot easier. A lot of the brakes I work on, as well, aren’t the best quality. So they’re resistant to being in good working order. It can be frustrating.

What do you like most about working in a community shop?

Anastasia: I love teaching. When I was reading the job description, that was one of the things that drew me the most and I was the most excited about. I’ve been teaching for a long time, and it’s just something that I really enjoy and I love being able to share knowledge. Especially with people who come in and they’re really excited about bike mechanics. There was a girl in the other day who’d never touched anything on a bike before and was like, “teach me things!” We ended up adjusting her hub, and adjusting her brakes, and truing her wheel. It didn’t take her that long, and she totally did everything really well, and she left the shop being like, “I love bikes,” and “I can’t wait to come back,” and that was just a great feeling.

Could you describe your dream bike for me?

Anastasia: Tamara’s. Not actually, though, because Tamara’s is maybe too nice.

Tamara: I just finished building a really pretentious Orbea road bike. It’s just really fancy.

Anastasia: I’m planning on building myself a good commuter road bike. Something that’s fast and feels good. I like road bikes a lot.

What do you think the Bike Kitchen and Bike Co-op could do to improve our services?

Anastasia: I think we should do Women & Queer Night more often. It’s super-popular. It was even popular in August when there weren’t a lot of people in school. Tamara and I were actually talking about having a Women’s Night and a Queer Night, separate.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with me for the Bike Co-op blog today?

Anastasia: I feel really lucky. This isn’t something that I ever really pictured myself doing, and it just all came together. It puts together lots of different things that I enjoy – I really enjoy working with my hands, I really enjoy learning, I really enjoy teaching, I really enjoy working on puzzles. And I love physics. And bike mechanics is all of those things.