Archive for December, 2014

We are closed Dec. 6 to Jan. 4 for Winter Shutdown

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

The Bike Kitchen and AMS Bike Co-op will be closed for service and regular programming for Winter Shutdown from December 6, 2014 to January 4, 2015. We’ll be back for regular 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. hours on Monday, January 5, 2014. Happy winter and good luck with your exams!



Cycling for Women: Oh, dear

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014


In 1989, Bicycling Magazine published a book called Cycling for Women. Edited by Kim Anderson, with contributions from a range of other cyclists, it offers some handy advice for bike fit, training and nutrition. It also contains other material that hasn’t, um, stood the test of time*:

PG 5: Can a Woman Be an Exceptional Cyclist?

PG 29: Cycling has a language of its own. When a friend says she’s planning a roller workout, don’t expect to see curlers.

PG: 30: Pizza elbow – see road rash

PG 72: If Marilyn Monroe wore bike shorts, she’d probably choose hot pink Lycra with black lace side panels.

PG 32: Wheelsucker – somebody who rides behind others and doesn’t take a pull

PG 29: Domestique – a rider who sacrifices individual performance to work for the team leaders

PG 74: It’s possible to color-coordinate shorts, tops, and jackets.

PG 1: A smart woman can be competitive against a stronger man simply by using common sense and intuition.

PG 85: The trick? Strengthen your upper body without adding bulk.

PG 8: Women – including cyclists – have managed to set records and win Olympic medals during all phases of their cycle.

* We threw domestique, pizza elbow and wheelsucker in there for the heckuvit.
To take a more in-depth look at this fascinating resource, drop by the AMS Bike Co-op and check out our library.



Open letter from the Bike Co-op for BC On the Move

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Today is the last day for residents of BC to participate in the BC On the Move Survey. To learn more about the survey, read AMS Bike Co-op Programs Assistant Jen Roberton’s blog post here, and then head over to the survey to give your feedback. The deadline for survey submissions and other comments is today.

The AMS Bike Co-op wrote and submitted the following letter for BC On the Move earlier today. We are reprinting it here as an open letter:


Dear Representative of the British Columbia Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure,

The AMS Bike Co-op supports the University of British Columbia (UBC) and University Endowment Land (UEL) Alliance for Biking and Walking’s vision statement on Roads For Everyone around the University Endowment lands and beyond. Their statement is as follows:

“Roads for Everyone: The roadways connecting the communities of UBC, the UEL and the City of Vancouver [should] become models for safe and convenient walking and cycling for people of all ages and abilities, while maintaining necessary connections for transit, goods and motor vehicles.”

Our statement of support for this vision comes at a critical time. We recognize that the government of British Columbia is currently asking for community input on their proposed ten year transportation plan. We are using this chance to tell the provincial government that we want them to stop treating the provincial roads in and around UBC like highways, and instead treat them like what they are: urban routes connecting UBC and the UEL to the City of Vancouver.

The AMS Bike Co-op’s mission is to both support and improve the UBC community’s cycling experience by encouraging more people to use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation for commuting to and around UBC. Currently, the insufficient cycling infrastructure on the provincial roads around the endowment lands is one of the most significant barriers to biking to and from campus.

Infrastructure improvements we’d like to see include proper maintenance and updates to existing lighting and bike lanes. The bike lane on University Boulevard is particularly problematic since buses veer in and out of the shoulder to pick up and drop off passengers on a poorly lit stretch of road that is full of puddles when it rains and improperly salted in the colder months. Despite these issues, University Boulevard is currently one of the better arterial roads. Many other streets on the endowment lands, like Chancellor Boulevard and Imperial Road, simply do not have anything approaching adequate infrastructure for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.


Picture taken on Imperial Road, University Endowment Lands. No streetlights and narrow road. No bike lanes and no sidewalks.


The concerns we have with the provincial roads around campus directly relates to a broader concern for the safety of all road users. Making the roads safer for cyclists will also make them safer for drivers and pedestrians.

AMS Bike Co-op
University of British Columbia



Meet a Mechanic: Tom!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Tom has been a mechanic at the Bike Kitchen for three years; as of late, he’s been learning about how to handle our inventory. He’s also responsible for playing copious amounts of Stone Roses and Dexy’s Midnight Runners at the shop.

Tom Bancroft


What do you like about working at the Bike Kitchen?

Compared to a lot of retail shops that I’ve worked at, the role is quite different. Rather than having a focus on selling things, there’s a lot more flexibility in what I’m allowed to recommend, so that people can really get what they want – what’s in their budget, what’s appropriate for their use.

I really like the compromise and flexibility in what we do. There’s a lot more of an opportunity to be creative with problem-solving and arrive at solutions that are not necessarily as time- or cost-effective as would be required in a commercial setting.

When did you start working with bikes, and how did you learn to be a bike mechanic?

My first job was at Reckless when I was 15. There, I was just fixing flats and renting bikes and installing racks and fenders and things like that.

There’s usually not enough time to train a mechanic in a commercial setting. I was really lucky – when I was 20, I was working at Rain City Bikes, which was a very small and doomed shop. My good friend Mark Wilson had a lot of time to show me how to do everything.

How old are you now?


So it’s been basically a decade since you’ve been working in bike shops! What’s been the hardest thing for you to master when it comes to bike mechanics?

The hardest thing to arrive at, something that requires a lot of experience, is knowing when to stop. When something isn’t going to get better, even if it’s not perfect.

Customer relations is tricky, too. You have to be diplomatic. You need to be happy that people are riding a bike at all. So they bought their bike at Canadian Tire… you gotta be able to communicate to people in a tactful way about why their bike might not be as fixable as we’d like it to be.

I get that. For you, what’s your favourite bicycle to ride?

My favourite bike to ride is my junky commuter bike with a big basket and dynamo lights. I ride it every day. It’s fun to ride. It’s a mint-green Canadian Peugeot.


Tom’s French 60s bike: a period-correct restoration.

My all-time favourite is a 60s French bike. It’s a restoration. It has new tires and stuff. I like the mixte and the regular top tube. It’s not the fanciest, but it’s high-end for being period correct. It doesn’t have a patch on today’s bikes, but it looks way cooler.

JF’s retro-direct bike is the coolest though.

Okay, moving on. You were saying earlier that you don’t really believe in bike safety. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that, and what you mean by that.

I find I have a lot of discussions with people about proper lighting, reflective clothing, proper technique – like how to ride in traffic, all these things. Helmet safety. But basically I’ve had far more instances of contact and near-misses – as a person who rides a bike every day, I expect that if I died in an accident it would be in plain daylight, doing everything as I’m supposed to be doing it, by somebody who’s just texting and driving or something. They outlawed talking and driving, but you can still read the screen of your GPS. It’s ridiculous. Basically everything you can do is irrelevant with that in mind.

Do you think that infrastructure can play a role to decrease that risk?

Not really. I mean I’ve been commuting for twenty years, since I was a tiny little kid. I’ve been riding around in traffic since I was in kindergarten. It’s fine. Drivers just need to be more considerate and aware of their surroundings. Everyone in the world needs to be more considerate of their surroundings.

Professor Kay Teschke at UBC did an analysis of cycling crashes and found that route choice played the largest role in terms of decreasing your risk of being in an accident.

I think that advocates for bicycle infrastructure are always comparing North America to Europe. In Europe, people don’t drive F350s to get a coffee. Most of the roads and the cities were built before there were automobiles all over the place. But everything on this continent was designed with cars in mind, so to make it more like Europe is never going to work. How it should be – basically when you are in driving school, they should teach you that every time you see someone on a bike, you should be grateful because they’re not gonna cause a traffic jam. I’m never gonna prevent you from finding parking. I’m never gonna contribute to gridlock.

I think part of the argument is that there are people who don’t feel comfortable cycling because they have to share the road with cars and so having infrastructure that allows them to be somewhat separated from cars will encourage more people to bike, and then that critical mass of people increases visibility and therefore safety.

It would make sense if there were a network of separated bike lanes that covered the city, but in reality, to get to those lanes you have to ride in traffic, and then when you get to the end they spit you back into traffic. You might as well be in it safely the entire time.

Of all of our programming here at the Bike Kitchen and Co-op, what’s closest to your heart?

I really like doing P&Y. I’m a P&Y supervisor. The repeat volunteers – it makes them so happy. They stick around, and you can really see them improve.



Meet a Board Member: Emily

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Emily is currently working towards a Masters of Bioinformatics at UBC; she does most of her work at the BC Cancer Agency. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Emily came here to Vancouver in 2007 to start her undergrad at UBC. She’s lived here ever since!


How long have you been involved with the Bike Co-op?

I joined the board at the Annual General Meeting. It’s been several months. I joined the board because I had some friends who were on the board and they encouraged me to join, and invited me to the AGM. Me and my husband Mike both went to that meeting, and joined that day. We’re both pretty serious cyclists, so it seemed like a good thing to be involved in.

What is your favourite bicycle?

I honestly can’t say I’m an expert or an aficionado by any means, but I think my favourite style is just a classic road bike because it’s versatile, and I’m a pretty heavy commuter, so anything that will hold up with long-term daily use is good for me. I like the look of cruisers, they’re kind of fun to try out every now and then. Also, my husband Mike and I tried out a tandem recumbent for a while, and that was quite an experience. It was interesting, but actually much more difficult than it looks.

Now that you’ve been with the Bike Co-op for a few months, is there an aspect of our programming that’s closest to your heart?

I’m on the advocacy committee, and although we’ve kind of had some inertia, I still would like to see us take on more. We’ve written a document assessing the condition of some of the roads at UBC, and the next stage will be to polish that off and potentially present it. I would say the work of the advocacy committee is what interests me the most.

I’m also a coordinator for Women & Queer Night. It’s usually a pretty small group, and it’s nice to be able to help someone out and learn a little on the way. I’m by no means a bike mechanic but I’m learning, and I like to teach people basic things like how to change their tube and how to oil their chain.

Have you learned how to fix your own bike as a result of being in the Co-op?

I’m definitely in the process of learning. I’ve got some help from people here. Lucas, the Bike Kitchen manager, gave us all a crash course in bike mechanics when we joined the board.

I just fixed my shifting today. I really didn’t think I’d be able to fix it – every time I’ve touched it I’ve just made it worse – but I realized I’m learning a little bit every time, and I’ve definitely come along.

In terms of increasing cycling, what do you think the largest barrier is at UBC and in Vancouver?

The first one that comes to mind is just getting a bike in the first place. At the CRCs, a lot of people will ask where you can find a good bicycle for a good price. People don’t necessarily recognize that you have to pay a little bit more to get something that’s actually comfortable to ride; they’ll get the cheapest bike they can find, and then they have problems with it – they don’t know how to fix it, and it’s not really worth taking in, so they end up not really using it.

Additionally, I don’t think people see cycling as a viable year-round transportation option, because of the weather in Vancouver. People don’t always know what kind of outerwear they need to ride in the rain. It’s expensive to get raingear, too.

Is there a way to remove that barrier or make it less intense?

I feel like if there was perhaps a discount or used cycling wear shop, and also if there were packaged, complete raingear sets – where you don’t have to go get your boots, your pants, your jacket, you can just get it all at once – I think that would make it easier.

What do you think that we could do better as an organization?

I think that’s really up to us. I could point fingers and say, so and so could do more work, but really the person I need to point a finger at is me. I’m part of this organization. I think I could do more work. I think we could all do more work, especially with regards to advocacy and brainstorming ways to get students involved in cycling, ways to promote cycling in our community. I think a lot of us are aware of certain issues that exist, but we haven’t sat down to really come up with a plan for how to address these issues.

Is there anything you’d like to talk about that we haven’t talked about?

The Cookie Crawl was great.