After nearly a year of planning and several location changes, the SSMU bike collective opened its doors on Tuesday to a pack of students anxious to fix their rusty chains, flat tires, and dead brakes.
According to Sara Todd, U3 International Development Studies, people can bring their bicycles to the collective – located in room B02 in the Shatner basement – and learn how to do repairs themselves with help from volunteer mechanics on shift.
“It’s about demystifying the bicycle, taking it apart, knowing how it works, not being scared of it,” Todd said. “It’s really cool to find out how simple the machine really is.”
The modestly-sized room has plenty of shelving space, a sitting area, and three stands for mounting bikes for repairs.
Less than an hour after the collective opened, all three stands were occupied and the room was bustling with volunteers and curious students stopping by. One student’s bike had been run over by a sidewalk snowplough.
Peter O’Connor, U3 Engineering, brought his bike in after his brakes and derailleur – the gear mechanism – had rusted over. Currently a member of Right to Move, a bike co-op on the Concordia campus that charges $20 a year for membership, O’Connor said he was excited to see another bike service downtown.
“There’s such a load of people using bike services, especially in the spring and summer – so it’s good to have an extra service,” O’Connor said.
“I’m freaking pumped. It’s great.”
Before the co-op moved into its current space next to Gert’s, which used to be the SSMU IT offices, SSMU Council and volunteers had considered the kitchen in the sub-basement, used by Organic Campus, and room 108, now set to be occupied by Liquid Nutrition.
The bike collective has an operating budget of $4,700 each year that is funded by part of the opt-outable SSMU Environmetnt Fee, to which students contribute $1.25 per semester. Other student services are paid for from SSMU’s regular clubs and services budget or from special fee levies.
The non-hierarchical bike collective strives to differentiate itself from other bike co-ops and shops, said volunteer Kerri Westlake.
“We really want to make the space safe and accessible. I feel like sometimes bike shops can be really intimidating, and we want to move away from that,” Westlake said.
Though some volunteers know more about bike mechanics than others, Westlake said it’s easy to learn how to make repairs. Neither she nor Todd were familiar with bicycle maintenance before becoming volunteers.
Several other volunteers who have experience working in shops and co-ops, like Jeff McMahon, a six-month Right to Move volunteer, led workshops earlier this semester to train more inexperienced volunteers. McMahon also stressed that the collective encourages beginners to use the service.
“Anyone can come in and learn,” McMahon said.
The collective plans on holding more workshops for non-volunteers as well, though plans have not been finalized.
Students are asked to make donations when using the service, and McMahon encourages donating used parts as well. The bike collective is now open Tuesdays and Fridays, 4:30 to 9 p.m. It will be open during the summer as well, with hours to be announced.
Marcelle Kosman, current SSMU VP Clubs & Services, said she was excited the collective had finally opened, and said students were looking forward to more bike-friendly weather.
“This fucking weather won’t stop being winter,” Kosman said.
The Daily reported that the collective had originally considered room 103 as a potential location, in fact, it considered room 108