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Friday, October 01, 2010

Photo Credit: Damon Chen

There are so many reasons to want to bike. I mean yeah there’s the environment, saving money and that bit of exercise. But seriously it’s just plain fun. You get to know your community on a whole different level, and get to pull some serious Kevin Lynchian urban jamming. Unfortunately though, cycling as a hobby isn’t always the easiest thing to break into.

When I started biking about a year and a half ago, I was a disaster. I didn’t even know that cyclists were supposed to obey stop signs. I couldn’t tell the difference between a derailleur and a gear cassette, and changing an inner tube was way beyond my meagre skills. My friends called me a public hazard and I had no evidence to the contrary.

Let’s be honest here, there’s a bit of a learning curve to biking, especially if you’re the first amongst your friends. There isn’t any kind of licensing to biking which is great for accessibility, but also means that there’s no one that’s really responsible for making sure new cyclists have the skills they need. That’s why a bike coop is so awesome.

For myself I got hooked up at a local bike coop that not only helped me choose a bike that was right for me (who knew that you are supposed to be able to fully extend your legs from your seat to pedal). But taught me how to refurbish my bike, and do all the minor adjustments and repairs that is crucial to bike maintenance. The bike coop was a working space. Anyone could come to use the space and tools there and learn new skills. Volunteers/staff ran workshops on safe urban biking, advanced bike repair and modification, and even did frosh bike tours of campus and nearby local hangouts.

Many of those people I met through the coop are now more than just bike acquaintances; we actually hang out and do things (although still usually on our bikes).
A bike coop for me is more than just a bike shop. It’s a place where people come together because they have a love of biking and they want to share that joy. It’s a place to meet new friends and build a community around something that is positive, fun and most of the time way faster than the bus.

-damon (the guy from CWY)

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