Do it yourself bicycle repair co-ops can be found in most major cities across North America — and soon there will be one here in Nelson too.
Francois Berard and Simone Vandersteen are in the process of establishing the Nelson Bicycle Co-op in the basement of a commercial building on Lake Street, across from City Hall. They have some tools and a couple bike stands, and now their looking for members and donations to get the shop ready for an official opening this Spring.
“We want to create a bigger bike culture, especially for bike commuting,” Vandersteen explained. “A lot of people do their bike maintenance at home, and we wanted to create a welcoming space where they can share their skills and learn from each other.”
The co-op will have resources and tools on hand, as well as spare parts, to get even the rustiest, beater bike back on the road.
“If you have a $50 bike and a $5 budget, you need a place like this to be able to keep riding,” Berard said, noting the co-op isn’t trying to compete with the for-profit bicycle shops, but offer an alternative for people who can’t afford them or prefer to do their own work.
There will also be workshops and special events hosted in the space.
“It will become a real social environment,” Berard said, recalling a thriving bike co-op in Montréal called SantroVélo, which inspired him to start something similar here.
“It can be really a lot of fun to get together and fix bikes.”
To get started, the co-op will need to form a board of directors and members, who will guide the development of what will eventually be incorporated into a non-profit organization. Then there will be grant applications to send off and a website to set up — and, of course, a shop to staff with volunteer labour.
“We need people with a range of skills. This isn’t something me and Simone can do alone. It needs to be a community project,” Berard said
Nelson Bicycle Co-op is holding an info night this Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. for anyone interested in the project to drop in and see the space, and learn more about opportunities to become involved.
Membership fees start at $25 per year for an individual or $40 for high usage (i.e. mountain bikers who will be there regularly to bleed their brakes). Families can join for an annual rate of $50, or $65 for high usage.
Members get access to all tools, resources on bicycle maintenance, and a discount on parts.
The co-op is also seeking donations of unwanted bicycles that can either be fixed up and redistributed within the community, or used for parts.
Also on their wish list are: bike stands, a wheel truing stand, tools, parts, an outdoor bike rack and a computer (for members to access online resources).
Nelson Bicycle Co-op is located at 502B Lake Street, next to Tu-dor Locksmith and across from the Community First Medical Clinic. For more info call 250-352-3263 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.