Archive for November, 2014

BC On the Move: Transportation Survey

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

By AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton

The government of British Columbia wants YOU to tell them what transportation issues matter in and around the province. You have until December 12, 2014 to fill out a survey to share your thoughts on transportation in the province.

They want to address the following things in the ten year plan:

  1. Moving goods and people safely and reliably
  2. Growing the economy
  3. Connecting and strengthening communities
  4. Maximizing collaboration and investment with partners, including First Nations, the federal government, regional and local governments, and the private sector

The section on cycling is seriously lacking. Bikes do not seem to be on the radar of the government for this particular plan. They do have plans to expand the highway infrastructure for trucks and the LNG pipeline.


We here at the AMS Bike Co-op are helping to signal boost this survey, in the hopes that the province will gather a well-rounded set of views concerning the BC on the Move plan.

Please take ten minutes and fill out the survey. Your input matters!



Plan for your ride with the Weather Radar

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

By AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton

Riding through a rainstorm can be the worst, even when you are equipped with the best gear. A pro­tip that I’ve found useful for Raincouver is the Government of Canada’s weather radar.

The weather radar shows how fast precipitation is approaching in real time. It is easier to gauge the speed, intensity and duration of incoming precipitation on the radar than on the often generalized weather channel updates. How many times have you looked up the weather for Vancouver only to see a bunch of rain cloud icons for the whole day, and a zoomed in confusing radar image of the city?

The Government of Canada weather radar is not only more accurate, but it also is the source for the information presented by weather channels.

Hitting the play button the interface will give you an idea of how fast and in what direction the rain is moving in. It’s a useful way to figure out if you can race the rain to school, or if that light drizzle will turn into a torrential downpour. Good to know for all outdoorsy activities!

Check out other satellite, jet stream, alerts and other fun weather images here, and learn more about how to use the weather radar here.

Happy Riding!



Meet a Board Member: Tamara

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Tamara is our current AMS Bike Co-op Board President. They formerly held a worklearn programs assistant position with the Co-op for almost two years. Tamara moved here from Ottawa; they are currently studying sociology, and gender, race, sexuality and social justice studies, with a minor in environment.


How long have you been involved with the Co-op, and what drew you in?

I’ve been involved for two years now. Two years ago I saw the posting for the programs assistant, the 10-hour-a-week worklearn position, and it fit really well with the experience I had, and I also hadn’t been biking for a year and I really missed it and I wanted something to motivate me to buy a bike again and get back into cycling. And I really liked the sound of the space and the kind of values that the Bike Kitchen and Bike Co-op uphold in terms of sustainability and anti-oppression. So I thought it would be a cool place to get involved.

When did you become the Co-op board president?

Just in April or March. Whenever the AGM was.

What is your favourite bike tool?

My favourite tool keeps on changing as I learn different things. So for a while my favourite tool was the fourth-hand cable-puller tool, just because it’s so useful for adjusting brakes. But then I discovered, at the bottom of the cable cutters, the little pokey thing which opens up the hole in the housing, and that pretty much blew my mind. But the hacksaw is also really fun. I hacksawed my seatpost and my fork for my new bike, and that was pretty fun.

As you’ve been learning bike mechanics, what has been the most challenging thing for you to master?

I’d say a combination of brakes and terminology. A few different kinds of brakes still confuse me, because I haven’t spent time learning how to adjust them all. And I’m still confused by some terminology – freewheel versus cassette versus cog versus gear. I think it’d be kind of intimidating for people coming in who don’t know the terminology. I try to use the correct terminology while saying that they don’t have to, and I try to explain things by their functions rather than their fancy names.

What do you think that the greatest barrier to cycling is in this city, and what can be done to remove or ameliorate that barrier?

I guess a combination of a few different things. The weather is definitely a deterrent for people. The winters are hard when it’s rainy and cold. Vancouver’s also really hilly, which depending on how far you’re going, can be a deterrent. And just generally knowing how to interact with drivers. I have a few roommates who are from different provinces and different countries and just knowing the rules of the road and how to be a cyclist on the road can be really challenging for people coming to the city. Moving here from Ottawa, I wasn’t really familiar with roundabouts, and the kinds of intersections with the lights and the stop signs. It took me a while to learn about how to use all that infrastructure.

The difference between pedestrian-controlled intersections and advanced greens confused me at first, because I’m also from Ontario. In terms of the education around how to interact with cars, what do think can be done to improve that?

I think having more resources easily accessible, or even visible on the roads – like instructions on how to use different intersections, posted as little signs beside them. Or programs like Bike Sense, only condensed and more readable, and easily given out to people. We do give out Bike Sense at our CRCs, and it’s a really good resource but it’s also really long and hard to read.

How many bikes do you own?

I currently have two. Which is the most of anything I’ve had before. Having two of something is confusing to me still! But my bikes are both very different.

Could you talk a little bit the process of building your Orbea? Why did you build it, what did you learn, what does it do for you that your other bike doesn’t?

My other bike is an Apollo road bike, so it’s a little on the heavier side, so I was looking for something lighter, and also with better gearing for hills. I wanted to do a lot more randonneur rides, as well as the Fondo up to Whistler. I learned a lot about bikes themselves. I didn’t realize how customizable the components were. I hadn’t spent much time looking at the catalogues, so my first time through, looking at the cranksets and seeing all the different ways they can be customized, and seeing what all the different terms meant, and then from there trying to figure out what I wanted on my bike. And learning a lot about compatibility with my frame as well, and Sram versus Shimano, and what does double-tap mean, and that kind of thing. As well as all the learning that went into putting it together. Although all the parts were rather nice compared with the parts that we use on P&Ys, they’re actually really easy to install and adjust.

You’ve been involved with the Co-op for a little while now, as a staff member and then as a board member. We do a bunch of different kinds of programming. Is there an area of our programming that’s sort of closest to your heart?

I’d say both the CRCs and Women and Queer Night. As the programs assistant I did a lot of CRCs. Dozens and dozens of times biking the CRC kit around Vancouver and around campus. So the CRC kit and I have a long history. I’m really familiar with that program and I loved interacting with the people who come to the booth, who asked anything from really basic questions, to planning for how they’re going to fix their bike. I enjoyed showing people how to fix flats and stuff. I really loved that kind of interactive outreach.

And then the Women and Queer Night: as someone who is both female-bodied and genderqueer, I love that we have that program, and I that it’s important to the Co-op. I think having that kind of safe space for people who might not usually feel comfortable and safe in the Bike Kitchen environment to come in and ask all the questions they need and be okay not knowing anything, and know that there are people there who are going to understand how they usually feel. It’s a lot of fun, too.

What do you think that we as the Bike Co-op could improve upon?

When I first got involved with the Co-op, we didn’t have as many staff and structures in place. I was the only staff member at that time. It’s been really cool to see that side grow, in terms of our capacity and professionalism and consistency. It’s been really incredible. But it seems like we’ve gotten a little away from the fun, social side of the Co-op, so I’d like to see us bring more of that back. More social rides, more just kind of general hanging out time to sort of balance the two. Like the Cookie Crawl. I’m pretty stoked for it.

Me too!



We are closed Nov 10-11 for Remembrance Day

Friday, November 7th, 2014

The Bike Kitchen and AMS Bike Co-op will be closed for service and regular programming for Remembrance Day from Monday, November 10 to Tuesday, November 11.

P&Y volunteer night is cancelled for Tuesday, November 11.

We’ll be back for regular 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. hours on Wednesday, November 13.



Meet a Mechanic: Jordan!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Jordan moved to Vancouver from Regina Saskatechewan, in 2009. He is a mechanic at the Bike Kitchen, and the former AMS Bike Co-op P&Y Coordinator. He studied Psychology at UBC.

photo (2)


How did you first get involved with the Bike Co-op? What drew you in?

I first got involved with the Bike Co-op right after I started at UBC. I moved to Vancouver and brought my bike with me. I was riding it around, and basically I just wanted to learn how to work on it and make sure it worked, because it was my main mode of transportation. And then I saw a sign outside saying “Free Pizza” one night, and so I was like, whoa, bikes? Pizza? That’s cool. I remember my first time walking into the kitchen, just before a P&Y night, and it was super-busy, hive of activity, tons of people everywhere, and I just remember thinking the space was so cool and I was hooked from there. I thought it was so neat that something like that existed at my campus.

How long have you been a mechanic at the Bike Kitchen, and how did you make the transition from being a Bike Co-op board member to being a Bike Kitchen mechanic?

I was a board member for two and a half years – a couple months after I started volunteering regularly, I got roped into joining on the board. Two summers ago now, I was working part-time, not really feeling super good about my job, and every day off I would bike around and end up at the Kitchen, and I would work on my bike, or do grunt work, like go through the wheels, sort the recycling, go through the used parts – just help out wherever I could, and, you know, bother the other mechanics and learn things. I basically hung out enough, and eventually me and Lucas, the shop manager, just had a chat, and he thought it would be a good idea if I worked there.

What’s your favourite bike tool?

BB tap. It can take you from a really bad situation to, like, your bike is fine again, just like that.

Do you ever worry that you’re going to seat the tool improperly and damage the frame?

I guess it’s in the back of my mind… I’ve never not seated it right, though.

What have you found to be the most challenging thing to learn or master when it comes to basic bike mechanics?

I struggled for a while with cantilever geometry and getting them set up most efficiently. And now I think it’s basically, like, keeping up with interchangeability standards, what parts will work with what bike, how they’re installed, how they mount. Will that derailleur work with that shifter? Will this pulley wheel work with that derailleur? All these different things that you come upon when you work at a job where you have to replace a bunch of weird parts all the time, and knowing what will work with what. It’s a lot to keep in your head.

I find that there are these several learning curves. It’s like climbing a multi-peak mountain.

So you’re currently the sustainability coordinator for the Bike Co-op. Could you talk a little bit about what that means and what it entails?

As the sustainability coordinator, my job is to solicit and manage the donations to the Bike Kitchen, because we rely on used parts on used bikes for parts and builds and stuff like that, to keep everything affordable. I spend some time emailing certain organizations, putting our name out there, and making sure that people know that picking up bikes for donation is a service we provide. It involves a lot of hanging out at the shed. I spend a lot of time there tagging bikes, going through the donations and sorting out which parts are still useable, which parts are worth saving, which things are P&Ys, which are strips, which are shop builds. Stuff like that.

What do you think the largest barrier to cycling is for folks in this city, and how can we remove or improve this barrier?

I think a lot of it has to do with how we’ve set up our roads in North America. A lot of the infrastructure in cities has been really car-centric. Trying to integrate bicycles into that is sometimes a challenging process, and it makes a lot of people feel like it’s unsafe to bike on the road. I think that’s the biggest barrier – a lot of people feel like it’s dangerous, and a big thing, but really biking is fun and enjoyable and it does not have to be dangerous. Anyone who’s spent any time in Europe – certain cities there, you can see how well other people are setting up their infrastructure.

Have you ever been hit by a car?

Yes. Three times. And it’s been hit and run twice.

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

I really enjoy the vibe of the shop. I’ve worked at commercial bike shops as well, and it’s completely different than that. I really enjoy the teaching and the DIY aspect of it. I like the empowerment aspect of what we do. Seeing people take charge of their mode of transportation and making them independent of all these other systems and forces in the world, when they can get by just with their bike. Teaching people how to take charge of that is really cool to see. That and hanging out with a rad group of people who happen to share the space.

Could you describe your favourite bike?

My favourite bike would be my fixed gear. I remember when I first built it, I knew what fixed gear bikes were, and I knew that they were a trend, but I wanted to have one for my own, and see what all the fuss was about. It’s nothing special but I remember the first few weeks riding it, it’s just a completely different experience and really puts you in touch with your bike in a certain way. Whenever I’m feeling well enough or when the weather’s good enough, I ride that bike. It’s my favourite one to cruise around town. Even when you have to hammer up the hills.

What about coming down the hills?

That’s even funner. You just spin.

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

A bigger space, more workspace. We’re basically working at our capacity. More work stands, so people can use the shop. A wider stock of new parts. In terms of services? For what we’ve had to work with, for staffing and volunteer power, I think we’ve done pretty well. Obviously there’s always an ideal that you can strive for, but with the space and the limitations we have, I think we’ve done pretty good.



Cycling Infrastructure: Roundabouts!

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

By AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton

Roundabouts are a unique traffic calming feature seen around residential areas of Vancouver. It may not seem intuitive, but the City of Vancouver has installed roundabouts as a way to slow down traffic and reduce collisions on residential streets. They are especially popular on streets that are designated bike paths.

Cars approaching a roundabout

Roundabouts only work IF:

  • Vehicles slow down or stop when approaching them
  • They are designed with adequate visibility of the adjacent streets
  • People know how to use them properly


Unfortunately, many of the smaller roundabouts on side streets lack these features. They have poor visibility and they are not used properly. Even if the intent is to slow people down through built form, instead of enforcing a regulated stop at a traffic line, a roundabout can inadvertently cause confusion and consequent collisions.

How To Use A Roundabout:

  • Keep right when approaching the roundabout
  • Circle the roundabout counterclockwise until you turn onto desired street
  • Give right-of-way to vehicles already inside roundabout
  • If you enter a roundabout at the same time, vehicle to the right has the right-of-way

Phew! Not the most intuitive traffic feature, huh?

That’s all for now!