Archive for May, 2015

First Time Commuter: A Bike in the Life of Jemma

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

By Hannah Fiegenbaum

I wouldn’t say that my roommate Jemma is an avid biker (yet), but she is hitting the streets this bike to work week on her new (to her, old in terms of number of years on the planet) bike. Jemma just graduated from UBC and entered a new phase of life which includes moving into a tiny basement suite, finding a job, and deciding how you plan to get to this new job now that your Upass is gone. This is perfect timing for the bicycle to swoop in and prove that it’s not exclusively for spandex clad racers zooming around on carbon fibre frames. Bicycles are for anyone who starts out at location A, and needs to somehow get to location B; its a COMMUTING MACHINE! I asked Jemma a few questions about how she is liking her new ride.

first time commuter - jemma

Biking along the Sea Wall. Pictured left to right Neil (Jemma’s new bike), Jemma, Niki (My bike).

What is your commute to work like?

I ride from our house in Kits down 7th to Columbia. Its nice because you go through a lot of residential areas and get a feel for the neighborhoods, which you don’t get from taking the bus or driving a car.


What do you like best about biking in Vancouver?

When you’re biking you get to be active and you feel good when you get there, rather than being stressed out and squashed onto public transit. Vancouver is also great because it has so many bike lanes and stop lights, which make you feel much safer in the city.


Since you have graduated you no longer receive a monthly UPass (bus pass included in university tuition fees). How has having a bike rather than a Upass changed your commuting habits?

Having a bike makes going places very accessible. I graduated school, and suddenly didn’t have a UPass, and had a job. I would never have change for the bus. Once I got a bike I was really surprised how fast you can get places, sometimes even faster than in a car if there is traffic.


Does your bike have a name?

Neil, named after Neil Degrasse Tyson.


What would you say to others who might want to bike commute to work but aren’t used to biking around the city?

I would say to just give it a try. It’s much easier than you think. It’s a good idea for the first couple times to get a friend who is more used to biking to go with you. They can show you some good routes, and the rules of the road and it makes it much less daunting when you go off biking on your own.


Will you continue to ride your bike beyond bike to work week?

Yeah, definitely!

If you already ride to work every day, why not challenge a friend or a coworker to give it a go? Maybe you haven’t been on a bike in ages, well what better time to break it back out. To the hard core cyclists, the first timers, and everyone in between rolling up to work on two wheels, happy bike to work week!




Summer Rides: The Stanley Park Seawall

Monday, May 25th, 2015

What is Summer without a trip around the seawall?

Biking Stanley park is a quintessential Vancouver activity, and the paved, 10.1 km loop around the seawall is perfect for catching up with a friend as you breathe in the salty air and enjoy views of the North Shore mountains. Keep in mind that although there are separated bike and walking lanes, the path is narrow and gets very busy on weekends; have patience and think “lazy Sunday meander” over “cardio training time trial.”


To help mitigate traffic concerns, cycling is only permitted in one direction on the path. This means starting at Devonion Harbour Park in Coal Harbour at the North end of Denman Street and heading to the right past Lost Lagoon. Offshore, you’ll see Deadman’s Island, known by the Squamish people as “The Island of Dead Men” and now the naval training base HMCS Discovery.

Image source:

Continue on to Hallelujah Point and you’ll find a collection of totem poles across the road and petroglyphs on an adjacent rock. After rounding Brocton Point you’ll pass Lumberman’s Arch, a tribute to BC’s lumber industry and former site of Khwaykhway, a Squamish First Nations village in the 19th century. Soon after, you’ll come upon Tall Trees Grove, with Douglas fir trees over 70m high.¹

Stanley park map

“Stanley Park, the map drawn by Peter Hugh Page, from a BCER pamphlet believed to be from the 1940s, post-Lions Gate Bridge. Seen at the VPL Special Collections.” Source:

After Siwash Rock and Third Beach, you’ll pass Canada’a largest known red alder. Fancying lunch? Nearby is Ferguson Point Teahouse

If you’re looking for a longer adventure, and you’re bike can handle gravel and dirt trails, try venturing into the middle of the park to visit the rose garden, or Beaver lake. If you’re on a mountain bike, you can check out the single track cross country trails that lead downhill from Prospect Point.

Image Source:


¹Bodegom, Volker. (1992). Bicycling Vancouver. Edmonton, Alberta. Lone Tree Publishing.


We’ll be featuring our favourite rides around the lower mainland this Summer. Got route suggestions? Email us at communications[at], or tag @ubcbike on twitter!




Meet Our Communications Coordinator: Kristina!

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Kristina recently joined the AMS Bike Co-op as our Communications Coordinator. She was born and raised in Victoria, BC, and studied in the Land and Food Systems Department at UBC after a brief stint in writing, performing arts, and opera. She become a dedicated cyclist in her senior year of high school, and has not looked back since (except for shoulder checks, that is). In her spare time, she likes to bake, hike, and kiteboard with her mom; she also sings and plays a few instruments, including the ukulele.


What made you want to get involved with the AMS Bike Co-op?

I’ve spent a fair chunk of time in the bike kitchen over the past 4 years fixing up my bike(s) and although I’d been to Women & Queer night, and done some recycle art outside on sunny days, I’d never gotten too involved in the co-op during my undergrad because I was always so involved with Sprouts. When I saw the communications job posting with the co-op, I was really excited. Sprouts and the Bike Co-op are very similar organisationally and culturally, so it seemed like a natural fit for me, given how passionate I am about cycling, and my experience with volunteer-driven co-operatives.

What is your favourite bike ride around town?

To be honest, most of my favourite leisure rides are in Victoria! I love doing what I call the Tour de Victoria, where I take the Galloping Goose trail downtown and then follow the waterfront all the way home. It takes about 3.5 hours and goes through all the old and expensive neighbourhoods. I’m still looking for good leisure rides in Vancouver, so hit me up with suggestions! I do love biking the seawall though, and now that I’ve moved to the West End, it’s my morning commute! 😀

Have you taken any memorable cycling trips?

Definitely! The first one that comes to mind is biking through the San Juans and down around to Port Angeles, then taking the ferry back to Victoria. We did it in five days, camping and using The San Juans are really great for biking, because the locals tend to be really friendly and are relatively slow drivers compared to the Gulf Islands. I suppose I also have a penchant for biking through rolling country hillsides and wineries (but who doesn’t!?). We had some really awesome hosts through Warmshowers and ended up in a sailing race in Port Townsend on a carbon fiber boat. We won! It was hilarious.

You’ve just started running the Bike Co-op’s communications recently: do you have any plans for the coming months you’d like to share?

Yes! I’ve been busy brainstorming all sorts of blog series that I’d like to do. For example I’d like to start interviewing co-op members about their favourite routes around the lower mainland, either for a leisurely jaunt or a multi-day tour. With regards to that, I’m organizing a cycle touring 101 workshop for later this month, so keep your eyes peeled for it! I’m also tossing around the idea of throwback Thursdays where we feature retro bikes or cycling history. In general I’d really like to build the online community so that UBC community members interact with us through social media. For example we have quite a few followers on Twitter, but our Facebook page and Instagram are pretty unknown, and could be great platforms for not only sharing our upcoming events, but also sharing photos and recognizing volunteers for their hard work. I’m trying to be diligent in posting more photos, and encouraging people to follow us and interact with us on these networks.

What has been the steepest learning curve for you as you’ve learned basic bike mechanics?

Although I recently purchased a bike with disc brakes, I have only have the vaguest idea how to work on them, and I usually direct those questions at CRCs to a bike mechanic. I think the steepest curve for me though was at the very beginning, years before I started working here, when I used to come into The Bike Kitchen and work on my bike without a clue of what I was doing. I was often too shy to ask too many questions because I felt silly, not knowing anything, and consequently spent a lot of hours trying to figure out simple tasks. Luckily, I’m no longer afraid to ask dumb questions and my learning rate has grown exponentially! For example last week our Programs Manager, Aida, showed me the fourth hand tool, and now I use it all the time—I’d been wasting my time with pliers all these years!

The Bike Co-op runs a lot of different kinds of programming. What’s nearest and dearest to your heart?

Women & Queer Night was my first foray into the co-op and I always look forward to it, but I also love doing CRCs. Especially when they’re outside! It’s far too much fun standing out in the sunshine, helping people adjust their brakes and answering their cycling-related questions. People from all ranges of experience stop by so it’s really dynamic; one minute you’ll be showing someone how to pump their tires or shift gears and the next you’ll be talking about cycle touring frames and our build your own bike program. We also just started Maintenance Mondays, where we basically just go outside on Monday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. outside the Bike Kitchen and help people work on their bikes in the sunshine. It’s pretty fun!

What do you think are the largest barriers to cycling in Vancouver? What can be done to ameliorate or remove these barriers?

I think the thing that frustrated me the most, coming from Victoria, was the sheer amount of intersections! As someone who likes to ride clipped in for all but the shortest rides, I found it really annoying, not to mention dangerous, stopping and starting all the time. I don’t really know how you would change that, considering that Vancouver is a grid system. I also feel that drivers don’t know how to use roundabouts, and about a year and a half ago I got hit in one. I lived in Copenhagen for five months from last August until last December, and I suppose it spoiled me in terms of bike infrastructure. Things like car doors are quite literally a cyclist’s nightmare here, but simply isn’t relevant over there due to their separated bike lanes and protected intersections. I used to think people didn’t cycle here because of the rain, or that it was just a cultural paradigm, but I understand now that cycling can be very stressful here and I think there’s a lot of infrastructure needed before we really see a shift.

Now that you’ve had a bit of time to get to know the Bike Co-op, what do you think our strengths are? What can we improve upon?

The Bike Co-op is pretty neat in our ability to get people involved that might have no bike mechanic skills whatsoever. Our volunteer programs are designed as a place for people of all experience levels to come practice and learn about bike mechanics and I really love that about the co-op. We also strive hard to keep things affordable, for example our Intro to Bike Mechanics courses, and that’s really important for student budgets. As for areas of improvement, obviously my job is in communications mostly, so I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this question from that perspective. We definitely need to increase our online/social media outreach. Sometimes I feel like a lot of what I put out there is barely seen, whereas in other, similar organizations it may be their main point of contact. Especially given that our community is UBC, and students are very tech savvy. Related to this is the way in which we contact our volunteers and recruit new ones. Our volunteer system I think is a bit organizationally scattered right now and we’re in the process of overhauling it.



The Bike Kitchen is closed May 18!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

The Bike Co-op and Kitchen will be closed Monday, May 18 for Victoria Day. Maintenance Monday will be cancelled. Regular shop hours and programming will resume on Tuesday.



Trip Report: Bike Tour to Wildwood on Vancouver Island!

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

As April came to a close, some of our members, along with Varsity Outdoors Club members, ventured on a 1-night trip to Vancouver Island to visit an “eco-forest” owned by The Land Conservancy and stewarded by the Ecoforestry Institute. Located near Ladysmith, Wildwood is a working experiment in “sustainable selective forestry,” whereby they harvest less than the annual growth rate.  The weather cooperated for the casual weekend tour and we had a blast learning about the unique forestry operation, hiking, and camping amongst the trees.

Departing from UBC Saturday morning, we cycled East, crossing the Burrard bridge and then the Lions Gate to the North Shore before riding up to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADeparting from UBC Saturday morning, we cycled East, crossing the Burrard bridge and then the Lions Gate to the North Shore before riding up to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal. DSC05614DSC05661Landing in Departure Bay, it was a short, casual ride South to the Wildwood forest.DSC05651 DSC05653 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We were given a tour of the property and told about their philosophy of sustainable forest management. You can read more about Wildwood here.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA DSC05644 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC05642

This was a great intro trip and we’re excited for more cycle touring this season! A map of our cycling route from UBC is here.

Unfortunately, Wildwood is currently slated to be sold by TLC to a private party. Click here to learn more and sign the petition to preserve it!




Meet a Board Member: Amir!

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Amir is a current Bike Co-op Board Member. Born and raised in Iran, he is currently in the first year of a PhD program in Mechanical Engineering at UBC. Apart from biking, he enjoys other outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, and camping.


How did you get into cycling?

My dad bought me my first real bike when I was 6 or 7. Since then, I’ve had different bikes, but I was never been really into biking until I moved to Vancouver. Here you see people riding their bikes on a daily basis. Thanks to the super awesome bike I bought last year, right now I ride almost everyday for commuting between home and work.

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

About two years ago I volunteered one day at Nat Bailey stadium for one of our Winter Market Cycling Resource Centres and boooom, a week later I was a PnY coordinator. During that CRC, I got to know board members Tamara and Kieran and talked to them about what the Bike Co-op does. I’d volunteered sporadically for different organizations, but had the idea of starting more serious type of volunteer activities. The Bike Co-op community sounded like a group of welcoming warm people. I joined the group and have enjoyed it since then.

As I mentioned, I was a PnY coordinator for the first year and I am now the advertisement coordinator. My long-term goal is to advertise Bike Co-op programs, especially PnY, more broadly. My golden idea is to have a 99 B-line bus painted in purple and yellow, but I’m not sure if that’ll happen.

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

To be honest, learning bike mechanics has not been an easy task for me, and there are still different challenging skills I am struggling with. Maybe one of them is how to set up brakes, especially cantilever brakes. The good point is that I am still learning during PnY nights. I try to attend them as much as I can to take advantage of this valuable resource that is available to us.

What’s your favourite bike tool?

Any tool related to cranks and bottom bracket is my favorite and among those I definitely love the crank puller. Although different people have explained to me how it works (and I think I know its mechanism), it is still a mystery for me everytime I use it.

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

I think a lot of people complain about lack of cycling infrastructure as the main barrier for cycling. I don’t deny the effects of infrastructure. However, I believe what we are missing the most is still the culture of cycling. The majority of people do not think of cycling as a means of transportation and here I think we need to have some broader ideas how to promote cycling in schools, in universities and in the media. Speaking of the culture, I think generally drivers dislike cyclists and cyclists dislike drivers. This mainstream has to change if we want to have a more cycling-friendly city.

As a non-helmet-wearer, what do you think of the Great Helmet Debate?

I use to wear a helmet when I start biking here in Vancouver, but then I realized it is so discouraging to have a helmet on. Sometimes, I refused to ride just because I did not want to wear a helmet. And then I came across the debate of not wearing helmet and read more about it and I could not agree with it more. I know for sure I won’t start wearing a helmet, but at the same time I don’t want to advocate that other people shouldn’t wear a helmet. I believe it is everyone’s job to figure out if a helmet is needed or not. I would suggest folks to read some anti-helmet arguments, or even try to ride without a helmet to see how it feels.

What’s your favourite bike to ride?

I currently have only one bike and that’s for sure my favorite. It is an old Nishiki Continental which is awesome for daily commuting as well as multiple-day touring.

The AMS Bike Co-op does a lot of different kinds of stuff. What’s your favourite area of our programming?

As a previous PnY coordinator, I definitely believe the PnY program is the most valuable and yet the most unrecognized and unappreciated program we run at the Bike Co-op. You get the chance to fix a bike without worrying about failing. There is a warm knowledgeable mechanic there all the time that is willing to help you out and give you as much as instruction you want. That’s why my long term goal is to promote PnY more broadly—not only in UBC, but also in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

What do you think the AMS Bike Co-op could improve upon?

What I really like about the Bike Co-op is that we are one collective mind. Everyone can have a say in Bike Co-op and contribute to its improvement and growth. To progress, I think Bike Co-op should always continue this path. This is even more critical by the time we move to the new Student Union Building, the Nest (it sounds weird, calling it the Nest!) where we’ll have more space and potentially we can expand our services and programs.



Bike Ride to Belcarra Park

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Last weekend the Bike Co-op took a group ride to Belcarra park. The 90km round trip took 4 and a half hours of riding time with a break at Belcarra Park in Anmore where the sun was out and the grass was green! The ride followed bike lanes the entire way from Vancouver to Port Moody. The roads thereafter were sometimes shoulder-less and fairly hilly, with a steep (but rewarding!) climb to the park.

Keep tabs on our group rides calendar and let us know if you’d like to come along next time!




belcarra route