The Flat, McGill’s bike collective, welcomed a new bicycle-part vending machine on January 12. Located beside The Flat, room B-02 in the Shatner building, the vending machine is the first of its kind in Montreal, according to collective member Matt Ainsley.
Already up and running, the vending machine contains all items that were available for sale at The Flat, such as inner tubes, bike lights, brake cables, tools, and promotional material. Because the machine was funded by a Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Space Fund grant, prices will not rise to cover the cost of the machine, and all earnings will go back into running the collective, as they have in the past.
The idea for a bike-part vending machine was raised about a year ago by former Flat member Harald Kliems, with the goal of addressing the collective’s main constraints – lack of space, long wait times, crowds, and restricted hours. Since Kliems’ departure, the project has been spearheaded by Ainsley.
The collective hopes that the machine will allow cyclists to address any problems they might have outside of opening hours, or to forgo lineups at The Flat and simply head home or to the public repair stand by the Bronfman building on McTavish.
The vending machine was purchased from a local supplier, and has been custom-spaced to fit bike parts. At this point in time, it also looks like a very standard machine, but The Flat is hoping to change that: the collective is looking for a student artist to paint the machine, with the possibility of reimbursement.