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Bike!Bike! 2011

Bike!Bike! 2011 was held in San Marcos, Texas; hosted by The Bike Cave and The San Marcos Community Bike Project. It took place from June 23-26th, 2011.
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Contents

Workshops schedule

Friday, June 24 Yoga Center The Bike Cave Sodatooth Go 2 Danz Library large room Library small room The Bike Project
9:30am - 11:00am #Acquiring a permanent space #Mobile Repair Clinic
11:15am - 12:45pm #Managing social rides to promote bicycling #Bike touring
2:30pm - 4:00pm #Teaching & learning styles #Integrating bikes into the university fabric #Working in under-privileged communities
4:15pm - 5:45pm #Basics of the nonprofit sector and organizational form #Women and Transgender shop hours
Saturday, June 25 Yoga Center The Bike Cave Sodatooth Go 2 Danz Library large room Library small room The Bike Project
9:30am - 11:00am #Bike 101 #Volunteer orientation #Acro yoga #Green space tour
11:15am - 12:45pm #Working with relationships #Working Together #Utilizing free open-source software
2:30pm - 4:00pm #Battlefield: Consensus #Weather? What weather? (winter) #Software developers exchange #Please be kind to cyclists
4:15pm - 5:45pm #Analyzing work flows #Recycled bike art #Classes, Workshops, Space
Sunday, June 26 Yoga Center The Bike Cave Sodatooth Go 2 Danz Library large room Library small room The Bike Project
9:30am - 11:00am #Managing expectations of a cooperative bike shop #Weather? What weather? (summer) #Confronting car culture
11:15am - 1:00pm #Closing discussion - Bike!Bike! 2012


Schedule

As published

Wednesday, June 22
1:00-6:00pm Pick up a loaner bike (if you're staying the night in Austin) at Austin's Yellow Bike Project
2:00pm - 6:00pm Open house at UT's Orange Bike Project
6:00 -10:00pm Open house at Austin's Yellow Bike Project
11:00pm Open house at Movemint Bike Cab Co. Shop (1301 east 4th street)
Thursday, June 23
11:00am - 1:00pm Pick up your loaner bike (if you've just arrived in Austin) at Austin's Yellow Bike Project
1:00pm Group ride from Austin's Yellow Bike Project to San Marcos (there will be a truck to take your things to San Marcos)
12:00 - 8:00pm Check-In at San Marcos Public Library ($25 - $45, pay what you can, nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. Pick up your loaner bike and housing arraignments)
2:00 - 8:00pm Fix up your bike at The Bike Cave
7:00 - 8:00pm Welcome / Speak up & speak out!
8:00pm - 10:00pm Casual welcome dinner at City / Plaza Park with music by Mariachi Nueva Generacion
9:30pm A screening of "Dudey Free Zone: Women's and Transgender Bike Spaces" plus other short bike-related films. At The Bike Project
Friday, June 24
8:00am - 1:00pm Check-In continued for those who get here late at The Bike Project
8:00 - 9:00am Yoga (including a light breakfast)
8:30 - 9:30am Breakfast
9:30am - 11:00am Workshops
11:15am - 12:45pm Workshops
1:00 - 2:30pm Lunch
2:30 - 4:00pm Workshops
4:15pm - 5:45pm Workshops
8:00pm - 9:00pm The future of Bike! Bike! - a discussion to figure out where we're heading, and how we're getting there. A preview of which project(s) are interested in hosting in 2012.
7:00pm - 10:30pm Bike polo on top of Speck Street Parking Garage (there will be a group ride leaving from Rio Vista at 6:00pm)
8:00 -11:00pm Concert at The Bike Project
Saturday, June 25
8:00 - 9:00am Yoga (including a light breakfast)
8:30 - 9:30am Breakfast
9:30am - 11:00am Workshops
11:15am - 12:45pm Workshops
1:00 - 2:30pm Lunch
2:30 - 4:00pm Workshops
4:15pm - 5:45pm Workshops
9:00pm - 12:00am BIKE! RIDE! BIKE! RIDE!
12:00am - ??? Dance party
Sunday, June 26
8:00 - 9:00am Yoga (including a light breakfast)
8:30 - 9:30am Breakfast
9:30 - 11:00am Workshops / final brainstorm
11:15am - 1:00pm Closing meeting, Bike! Bike! 2012 discussion


Workshops

Green space tour

A bike tour of San Marcos green spaces

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Acquiring a permanent space

Acquiring a permanent space instead of renting, working with the city for land or a building, fund-raising and micro-loans

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Acro yoga

Skillshare

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Analyzing work flows

Analyzing work flows within a bike project: setting up committees and more effective follow-up. How to reduce "ball droppage". Held at 4:30 PM on Saturday, June 25, 2011, at the Community Yoga Center.

Facilitated by Susan of Third Hand Bicycle Cooperative in Columbus, Ohio.

Notes

Often in collectives, everyone will be off doing their own thing. This can lead to some jobs being repeated and others falling through the cracks. To combat this, it's helpful to identify all the processes at work in the collective, whether they deal with inputs to the collective, actions within the shop, or outputs leaving the collective.

Third Hand streamlined their procedures by identifying all of the processes involved in handling this inputs and outputs. The frequency and nature of each task was discussed, and jobs were fit together as appropriate. Collections of jobs are given to various task forces, each empowered to deal with their issue without approval from the Board or the overarching Collective and charged with developing the policies that guide the completion of those tasks. The identification of tasks alone took half a day.

To deal with the problem of one volunteer doing all of one job and leaving the organization without institutional knowledge, it was suggested to pick a primary and secondary person responsible for getting the job done. Another method would be to assign jobs at the beginning of each month, so that tasks get spread around more widely. Neither approach means that the person assigned has to do the task; they may delegate the task, they're just responsible for making sure it happens.

Those assigned a job should make a short report back at a general meeting as to their success or failure. This helps the group know that necessary work is being accomplished and provides an avenue for new volunteers to find work. Since it's nearly impossible to penalize volunteers, enforcement has to be kept positive. In the case of an incomplete job, the group should ask why the job was not finished, and whether there was sufficient support from the group. Any remediation can be simply done by a reconstituted task force given a mandate to fix the problems.

In Third Hand's experience, some jobs like outreach and volunteer coordination are best considered as "alternative shifts" -- as crucial as a regular shift, but handled in a radically different way.

Examples

Sample inputs, from the workshop:

  • Mail
  • Phone calls
  • E-mail
  • Donations (cash or stuff)
  • Visitors
  • Packages and deliveries
  • Complaints
  • Volunteer labor

Sample inside tasks:

  • Cleaning
  • Tool ordering
  • Inventory
  • Budgeting
  • Parts sorting
  • Scheduling
  • Tracking
  • Sales

Sample outputs:

  • Bikes
  • Knowledge
  • Rent/utilities
  • Media
  • Mobile units
  • Volunteer appreciation
  • Newsletters/flyers
  • Mail and e-mail
  • Tax returns
  • Deposits

Sample task forces:

  • Finances (Sales, Budgeting, Bill Payment)
  • Tool and parts orders
  • Community relations
  • Volunteer coordination
  • IT/Tech
  • Outreach
  • Conflict resolution

Processes can be determined by looking at the inputs. For Mail, mail would be picked up and sorted to give to the appropriate group (finance, outreach, ordering, etc.), with a time frame of "every open shop". Third Hand spent half a day just identifying processes like these.

Handling tasks

After the processes are identified, task forces can be drawn up to handle them, and each task force can then draft the necessary policies to complete the tasks.

Meetings help ensure tasks are done. Task forces can present whether they've kept up with their tasks and ask for additional help if necessary. Any resolution at one meeting should have a report back from the person responsible for the project at the next meeting. Also, if a new task comes up, it is possible to send it straight to a task force without bogging down the rest of the meeting. Routine items seem to be the best suited towards this task force method, as they are rarely out of consensus.

Assigning a job exclusively to one volunteer can cause problems if that volunteer has to step aside for whatever reason. Two options to deal with this were to pick a primary and secondary contact for each job or to rotate each job frequently, so that skills and knowledge are more widely distributed within the group. A "bus test" was suggested; if a volunteer were hit by a bus tomorrow, would their tasks still get done? And if not, why not?

Widespread knowledge can also help keep minutia of tasks to a minimum and prevent people from overspecializing or enforcing difficult job requirements on others.

If a task slips through the cracks and remains undone, a new task force can be established specifically to fix the problem and catch up the organization.

Basics of the nonprofit sector and organizational form

Details

Held on Friday, June 24, at the Bike Cave.

Facilitated by Charles from the Bloomington Community Bike Project.

Topics were determined by the participants at the beginning of the workshop and ran across a wide spectrum of general information on nonprofit management.

General notes

In 2006, the U.S. IRS published a rule requiring some sort of reporting as to an organization's status, even if it was just a postcard sent in. A number of small nonprofits lost their exemption for not following this rule.

It is important to have a way to evaluate an organization's performance as it relates to its mission.

Every organization needs a statutory agent -- someone who can sign for the organization and provides the IRS with "a throat to choke" if things go downhill.

Meeting minutes have to be kept. Google Docs and a local wiki are both good resources, allowing necessary modifications. One organization had a lot of success keeping an internet-enabled computer in meetings, transcribing in realtime, and e-mailing the attendees immediately.

Most states and regions have nonprofit resource centers and many libraries have nonprofit guides. Use them as best you can. If a resource provides facilitation training, it is usually worth it to send members.

Fundraising opportunities

Contract work can provide a good revenue source for a shop, but organizations must be careful that the contract closely matches the organization's priorities. It does little good to spend volunteer or paid staff time on special work that doesn't help the organization much. Grants can be a similar resource sink; the best grants are those that give you money for doing what you do. Always be prepared to walk away from a grant or a contract.

When searching for grants, it helps to have a relationship with a grant writer. Be sure to look beyond bicycle-specific grants, too; a lot of bike collective work can fall under categories like sustainability, health, or ecology.

Why to incorporate

Small shops can skirt by without incorporation, but setting up a nonprofit brings a few major benefits.

Incorporation makes it easier to get insurance and liability coverage, protecting volunteers in case of lawsuits. Incorporated nonprofits can also receive tax-deductible donations, avoid income taxes, and are in a better position to compete for grants and fundraising.

Setup

The constitution, bylaws, and policies were described as different facets of how to organize a nonprofit's structure.

The constitution itself should be short -- little more than a mission statement and a prominent mention of the organization's tax exempt status.

The bylaws should ratify the organization's best practices. As they are a legal document governing the organization, they should be concise and flexible and avoid dictating specific policies. Try to write in what should happen -- what the shop can do, what someone should expect when their come in, and so on, without saying how to accomplish those goals. Well-written bylaws also allow anyone reviewing them to see whether the organization is keeping true to its promises and offer an opportunity to change course if things go bad.

All details about how to actually run the shop and organization belong in the policies and procedures.

L.A. Bike Kitchen overview

Arlen from the Los Angeles Bike Kitchen summarized how their organization is set up.

The Bike Kitchen has three volunteer levels. Shadows graduate to volunteers once they've completed a general knowledge worksheet. Volunteers that work four shifts a month (about 12 hours) and do something extra special for the organization can then move up to "cook".

There are four quarterly "cooks" meetings, run under supermajority consensus rules, utilizing an outside (and objective) facilitator. There is also one annual camp held with a paid outside facilitator. Board meetings are held monthly with a rotating facilitator chosen from the group.

Day-to-day operations and policies are handled by "gruppos"; ad hoc autonomous committees with specific charters. These committees are not required to accept input from anyone else. Presumably, anyone with strong feelings on, for example, what tools to order, would sit on the ordering gruppo.

Example gruppos:

  • Finance
  • Ordering
  • Operations (as related to bike projects)
  • "Smooth shifting" -- ergonomics and accessibility
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Neighbor relations
  • "Space exploration" -- researching a new shop location

There was no built-in accountability measures; everything just worked.

Battlefield: Consensus

Decision making - the good, the bad, and the ugly. A reprise of 2010's Battlefield: Consensus.

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Bike 101

Outcome and Feedback

Bike touring

What to take, how to pack, where to sleep and eat, and of course, where to go.

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Classes, Workshops, Space

Doing Meaningful Outreach with Communities in Your Neighborhood.

Notes

How do you programs “translate” in your/near by communities?”


How are you defining “Community”?

How inclusive is your space? How Accessible?


Lava Monsters of Death (these will hold you back, don’t let them!)


Using excessive “they” “them” or “those people”

Assuming people know what you know.

Assuming people are intentionally (behaving/acting) being fucked up

Confusing critiques/analysis of behaviour dynamics as vicious existential personal attacks of Doom against you, yes you!


Success Stories of Workshops that help out reach to under privileged communities.

Multi language bike mechanics, teach english or learn spanish at the same time as teaching bike mechanics,


Get Doctors to prescribe bike riding, get them to send people to your collective.


Organize group rides that tie in a neighborhood’s resources that are not well used, go to farmer’s markets, put baskets on bikes.


Safe routes to schools has been successful in getting more kids to ride.


Find teachers who are bike sympathetic.


Canvas the neighborhood, knock door to door, flyer (tear offs work well), bring tools to fix flats, mobil bike repair!


Get in contact with a neighborhood organization, they often don’t have websites, you can find them sometimes through the police department.


Be wary of giving “big free give away!” if you don’t have enough, it can create a weird and tense atmosphere.

Outcome and Feedback

Confronting car culture

Dealing with dominant culture on a personal level and effecting cultural shift.

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

How the City of San Marcos, Texas bicycle map was created

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Managing expectations of a cooperative bike shop

How to manage expectations and orient new people quickly to the cooperative shop environment

Details

Held Sunday, June 25, 2011 at 9:30 AM at Community Yoga

The facilitator did not arrive, so this was used as a general discussion instead.

Notes

There are many sets of expectations in each shop. Shops expect certain behaviors of volunteers, customers, and paid staff. People in the shop have expectations of the shop itself and what they will get out of it. Most of these expectations are not written down, meaning all persons in a shop have to negotiate certain expectations -- both the reasonable and the unreasonable.

In most cases clear communication can create a reasonable and healthy set of expectations between a shop and the people within, helping the shop work much more smoothly. Specific shop policies are really just a way to write down those expectations as rules.

Customers

As it's possible for a shop (or its staff) to earn a bad reputation for not fulfilling false expectations, it's crucial to present what a shop does and does not do, to quash these false expectations.

Misunderstandings about what the shop does can run the gamut; some shops have been heard to "give away new bikes", others to "fix your bike". These might have come by word of mouth from other shop users or from referring agency. The purpose and rules of a shop need to be clearly communicated to all users as soon as possible, via a short and concise elevator speech, handout card, or some other method.

Not all customers will respond to the same mode of communication the same way, so it can be helpful to tailor one's elevator speech or rundown in order to make it more easily assimilated.

Volunteers

Not everyone volunteers for the same reasons, and if a volunteer job isn't fun, it's less likely to get done. All volunteers need to be integrated into the organization, whether they intend simply to wrench intermittently or try to find a place in the organization's structure. For both, it's important to get a volunteer to state their reasons for volunteering and why; including a volunteer "contract" in volunteer training may be an option, though of attendees, only the Bike Dump had experience with one and it did not work.

The shop also has expectations of volunteers -- service commitments and the like -- that may not be understood by volunteers. In one example, the organization expected members of its governing body to step down when they started volunteering less frequently, while the volunteers expected to retain their position. A conflict like this could be prevented with established and enforced policies.

lack of fulfillment of expectations can cause volunteers to drop out of circulation; a volunteer expecting to be on a leadership track and is denied advancement -- for whatever reason -- is likely to have a negative experience with the organization.

Organization

Since the organization can only act through its agents, it is important that the decisionmakers understand what the organization needs and expects from the people coming in. It should expect its decisionmakers to be nonideological and fair, that it has a corps of volunteers capable of handling its affairs autonomously and without interruption, and that its policies will be enforced equally.

Outcome and Feedback

Ultimately, projecting positive expectations and sticking to them as consistently as possible will go a long way towards ensuring that everyone around an organization has their reasonable expectations met.

When possible, write those expectations down, and make sure they are enforced and reinforced by everyone in the shop.

Integrating bikes into the university fabric

Integrating bikes into the university fabric via student and staff collaboration

Notes

University of Texas loans bikes for 1 year. They charge the borrower for unreturned or damaged bikes and they are currently trying to get these fees put on students' records to ensure they are paid. In their case the university itself is liable for injury.

Most shops however have no official ties or agreement with their university.

How do you get along with for profit shops?

Mixed reviews, some don't like having the competition while others will donate directly to the shop.

Outcome and Feedback

The organizers of this workshop had planned to give a formal presentation but instead just had an informal discussion. The discussion quickly went off topic, it was not moderated at all. It most likely would have been much more productive had the organizers stuck to their original plan.

Managing social rides to promote bicycling

From fringe to mainstream: how social cycling can ... and make our cities better

Details

Held at 11:15 AM on Friday, June 24 at the Bike Cave. Elliott McFadden of Austin on Two Wheels and Violet Crown Cycles started by describing his views of cycling promotion and two methods seen in Austin of directly working to get people riding bikes. After this, he answered questions in a general discussion format.

Notes

Failures in bicycle promotion

Elliot identified two somewhat conflicting methods of increasing cycling from the cycling industry and from political advocacy.

  • Industry: Bicycle sales in the U.S. have remained stagnant over since the 1970s, despite significant growth in population. To increase sales, the bicycle industry has focused on making bikes more niche -- selling new bikes to their existing market.
  • Advocacy: Advocates lobby decision makers for better infrastructure, but do so without growing a grassroots bicycle population or establishing cycling within the community.

Until bicycling is seen as a normal community behavior, bicyclists will continue to be classified by convenient stereotypes, like the spandex/carbon weekend warrior, the hipster scofflaw, and the sanctimonious environmentalist.

Strategy

Defining "regime" as an interconnected group of businesses and leaders with a common world view, Elliott noted that the current regime is in favor of growing consumption and fossil fuel use. At the national level, this means the oil and auto industries. At the local level, it includes developers, auto dealers, and news entities, whose future profits depend on growth. Tellingly, 30% of all ad revenue for media entities comes from car companies. Regime change must then be the goal of a bicycle promoter. Find negative ways to describe the current regime (dirty, expensive, destructive, long travel times in cars) and positive ways to describe the desired regime (healthy, thrifty, sustainable, quality family time). Form partnerships with businesses and organizations that can benefit from a new regime.

Social cycling

To replace the negative stereotypes of bicyclists, it is important to develop an atmosphere that encourages riding by more members of the community. Bicycling should be made to be more comfortable -- no races, no work-outs, regular clothes, open to everyone. The joys of being out, riding with regular people, should be paramount. Commuting is often a big sell by industry and advocates; it allows shops to sell specialized "commuter" bicycles and advocates to focus on connecting routes, but as a sales point, it has two crippling problems: nobody likes to go to work, and most people go to work alone. Instead, social cycling should be a focus: just get many people together to ride bikes. Austin has two models that work in tandem: Social Cycling Austin and Austin on Two Wheels, an "affiliated business concept".

Social Cycling Austin

Social Cycling Austin is a volunteer production started two years ago as a free ride -- participants just show up for a weekly social ride, drawing 200-300 riders on average and as many as 500. It partners with local businesses, usually a bar or restaurant, and rides with traffic, not against it. This model is easy to start (it just requires two people) and its open structure makes it accessible to all. It doesn't have to be affiliated with any business, so it can work with and for everyone. Because of its loose nature, it's easy to change what doesn't work or even dismantle the ride. It doesn't need any investment to start up, as most organizing can be done through social networks and guerrilla marketing. Unfortunately, it also has no control over who shows up, making it difficult to deal with troublemakers and easy for the ride to grow beyond the capacity of the leaders or prevent the ride from being co-opted by other organizations. A focus on bars as a final destination also makes it easy for this sort of ride to turn into a "booze cruise", adding additional challenges to the organization and often depressing its ability to draw women riders. Additionally, it is easy for organizing volunteers to burn out and the undefined liability might cause problems in case of injury.

Affiliated Business Concept

In an affiliated business concept, the rides are run as a business, usually as smaller fee-based rides than as large-scale free-for-alls. Because a business controls the ride, it's possible to tailor rides for specific demographics; women, families, suburbanites, etc. It's also easier to get different business partners and variety in the ride -- restaurants may provide food and drink samples, galleries may partner for art rides, or retail establishments for shopping rides. A business is also better able to provide a clear line of liability in case of accident and maintain a paid staff of ride leaders and organizers to provide a higher level of service. Austin on Two Wheels, for example, capped rides at 50 participants and provided one ride leader for every ten people to watch over unlocked bikes and help keep rides safe. This concept also carries some challenges. Partners must be committed to growth; it can take 18-24 months for the concept to turn a sustainable profit and its longer-term viability has not been tested, though it may be a reasonable loss leader for a bike shop. It also limits partnerships to a single member of each sector; one bike shop, one newspaper, or one boutique. The clear line of liability also means that the operating business has insurance requirements to carry and will likely have to enforce helmet use.

Discussion

Both rides appeal to different people, but the demographics of the riders were mostly white, though unintentionally so. For the open social rides, this was because the ride started from one social circle and its business preferences. For the paid rides, this was because they were seeking sustainable income. Since bicycles seen as a lesser mode of transportation in impoverished communities and represent gentrification, it can be difficult to promote them, though groups like the Major Taylor Group are trying to increase African American ridership. Either way, more racially diverse ride leadership should help diversify rider participation. Other problems with social cycling rides were identified. It's easy for the ride's somewhat high turnover to give it over to more aggressive cycling, and efforts to rein it in can be paternalistic. Responses to paid rides were overwhelmingly positive. Of 300 participants, 60% were women, and every ride had a bicyclist that had not ridden at all in the past year. Of survey respondents, 85% loved the ride, 97% would do it again, and 84% were more likely to revisit the participating businesses. No complaints were received of the ride being too fast, and the complaints of 1/3 of the respondents that the ride was too slow were dismissed. As for distance, the longest single ride was 10 miles and the longest single stretch was five miles, but most rides were just a few miles in stretches of two miles or less at a 10-12 mph pace. The high ratio of leaders to participants of the paid rides helped keep them very well organized. Walkie-talkies were given to the front and back leaders and other riders would circulate through the ride, keeping riders lined up, directing traffic at intersections, and encouraging the ride to behave well in regards to other users. It helped that the Austin Police Department was non-reactionary, so there was no backlash from law enforcement. Paid rides started with an intro of the leaders and the participants signing of a waiver stating they knew the rules of the road and agreed to follow ride leader instructions. Marketing was done through their own website, and partnering businesses were encouraged to do their own promotion as well. It was emphasized that time, rather than distance, was mentioned in all promotions. Though a six mile ride would take about 30 minutes, 30 minutes seemed like an easier ride than six miles. Ride classifications were right out; letter-assignments mean nothing to the new riders being targeted. Hurting businesses were suggested as rich prospects, as a few dozen potential customers can be enticing. Visits to any business should be during slow hours, though, to minimize disruption to regular services and provide customers when the business would be otherwise idle -- restaurants on Saturday afternoons are a good example.

Outcome and Feedback

Mobile Repair Clinic

Held at 9:30 AM on Friday, June 24, at Sodatooth art gallery. Operating a mobile on-the-go repair clinic through the city and community organizations.

Notes

The original facilitator did not show up for this workshop but the intent was fairly self evident by the name of the workshop. It was begun with a go-around and then by asking the question 'who currently operates a mobile repair unit?' The Bike Cage from Winnipeg told us that they began as a purely mobile shop until they had enough resources and a space to operate from a permanent location. The Bike Root from Calgary told us that the opposite was true for them, they began with a full shop but after losing their space, kept operations going by setting up in various locations on their campus and around town.

To fix or not? Where do you draw the line?

There were various answers to this question, some shops will only fix flats and minor brake and gear issues. Others were willing to fix anything as long as the tools were available. Arguments for the former included

  • lack of proper tools
  • lack of more advanced tools or replacement parts in case anything went wrong
  • lack of knowledge / trust in the knowledge of some casual volunteers that might attend a mobile repair clinic
  • some provide more hand on repair for mobile units to decrease liability in case a bike owner injures themselves but providing more complicated repairs ourselves increases liability in case the owner injures themselves on their bike afterwards.

and for the latter:

  • We should do our best to get more bikes fixed and on the road
  • We're confident in our skills
  • The worst thing that might happen is that a bike that wasn't on the road is now still not on the road
  • We make bike owners fix their bikes themselves so we are not liable

Other services

In addition to offering minor repairs, the Bike Cage's mobile unit doubles as a bike valet service. There was no elaboration on how the system works.

Getting the message across that a mobile tune tent is not a fully functioning tent

It seemed to be a common problem that when individuals in the community would hear about a free tune-up possibility, they would often bring in bikes that need repairs far beyond what could be done at a tune tent. It was suggested to avoid this, advertise as "light bike repair".

Who holds the tools?

We had a discussion about if the volunteer should fix the bike for the owner or provide the owner with the tools and teach how to fix the bike hands-off. Whether or not tools were handed to the bike owner, teaching at least by the volunteer explaining what he or she was doing seemed to be the norm. The issues behind whether or not to let the owner fix the bike seemed to be liability dependent on both sides. If the volunteer fixes the bike, the shop becomes liable if the bike causes injury down the road while normally the bike owner has not signed a liability waiver to use the tools, so the shop could be liable if they hurt themselves while repairing their bike.

Ride or drive?

We had a discussion on whether or not to drive the equipment to the location or use a trailer. No one seemed to be passionate for either but there are a lot of options out there for trailers big and small. Fargo rides with a huge 4x6 trailer.

Off topic discussion

The conversation went off topic many times but did produce a few interesting ideas:

  • Winnipeg uses a punch card, much like one you would find a a coffee shop or fast food location, to punch out skills that a volunteer has learned. Once the card is completely punched the volunteer can start fixing bikes for others.
  • While discussing how to get enough replacement parts, another bike shop told us they provide local bike shops with barrels which the shops can use to put parts that are still usable but would otherwise throw away. The barrels would be picked up and emptied at regular intervals. This shop did not have a problem finding parts when needed as a result.

Outcome and Feedback

Please be kind to cyclists

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Recycled bike art

Turning garbage into gold.

Notes

File:Bike Craft - Tube Shoe Laces.pdf

Outcome and Feedback

Software developers exchange

Projects being worked on, have worked on, or areas they (you) are interested / skilled in.

Held Saturday, June 25, at 2:30 PM at the San Marcos Public Library.

Facilitated by Godwin of The Bike Root in Calgary.

Notes

Participants briefly described their technical experience, specifically any coding projects and languages they've used. A few participants were experienced programmers; most were interested in learning or helping a project in other ways like documentation and testing. Austin Yellow Bike Project's tracking code was discussed and briefly compared to the San Francisco Bicycle Kitchen's Freehub software.

The Yellow Bike Project released their code for public use, and it was noted that SLC had already made a Joomla plugin. The YBP software was also demonstrated live at the workshop.

Steve of Fargo and Godwin were (or soon will be) working on independent applications, but the general consensus coalesced around a few ideals.

Any software development push should be oriented towards a web-based solution for the greatest ease in rolling out across various platforms, though it would make it more difficult to install as a software package and could lead to data security and access problems if provided as a hosting service, as SFBK does with Freehub. Additionally, this software should start with one shop in order to develop one full set of features. All features should be written as plugins to a basic core, allowing features to be added as required by various shops. Yellow Bike Project's software may make a suitable core for such a push.

A general wishlist was hashed out, in no particular order:

  • Work-trade management
  • Granular volunteer time tracking
  • Varied reporting options
  • Donation tracking
  • Bike and inventory tracking (including completion of projects)
  • Visitor tracking
  • Communications options (e-mail lists, contacting expiring memberships)
  • Sales tracking (though not point-of-sale)
  • Volunteer skill tracking

Outcome and Feedback

Godwin will direct a new open source project starting in September 2011. The system will be modular so that individual plugins can be added or modified as needed to ensure that collectives don't have to modify the way they do things simply because the software does not conform to their model.

Teaching & learning styles

Teaching & learning styles in community bike shops; a discussion about different approaches, what works and what doesn't work as well

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

The future of Bike! Bike!

Where are we going and how are we going to get there? Also, a quick (but no-decisions-made) discussion about where Bike! Bike! will be held in 2012 (that will be decided during the final meeting on Sunday, June 26).

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Utilizing free open-source software

Operating systems and work documents to benefit your project.

Notes

Despite "charity" pricing for software packages from major publishers like Microsoft and Adobe, some software is priced beyond the range of a co-operative's budget, or would be used to infrequently as to make a purchase pointless. Fortunately, the open source community has responded with a number of free replacements for major software, including for the operating system itself. Most of these packages can be found in Computer Resources.

Outcome and Feedback

Volunteer orientation

Addressing safe space concerns, and a conversation about empowering and maintaining a committed volunteer base

Notes

The Volunteer workshop was hosted by Alex from Plan B in New Orleans. Among the discussed strategies for integrating new volunteers into a coop/collective were shadowing, which is a form of watching and learning, and checklists of shop skills. The purpose of a checklist is to provide structure for learning bike maintenance as well as how a particular shop runs.

The Bicycle Kitchen (Los Angeles) has a one page fold-up booklet designed for this purpose that is pretty damn nifty. They also include extra curricular activities for new volunteers, and once a booklet is completed that volunteer is asked to be a cook. Volunteers are under the iron-fisted dominion of a volunteer coordinator who answers emails and manages a shadow list. In some shops a volunteer coordinator is a paid position or managed by a subcommittee.

Volunteers and Encouragement

Four out of five bike coop volunteers agree that encouragement is necessary to keep on new volunteers. Some shops have monthly orientations in order to introduce newcomers to the shop and the ideas behind it, general behaviors, a mission statement, run through different situations, and at times gender dynamics are incorporated. Other ballin' forms of encouragement are retreats like camping or bike rides as well as games and skits.

Social events are a good form of initiation and build community. Bicycle Kitchen (Los Angeles) has volunteer only shop hours and the Bikerowave, also in LA, is required by law to have at least four parties a year. Parties and social get togethers are also pretty awesome because free food is a volunteer magnet. Often breweries or certain restaurants are enthusiastic to donate to these types of events.

Outcome and Feedback

Weather? What weather? (summer)

How you and your bike can survive the heat

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Weather? What weather? (winter)

How you and your bike can survive the cold

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Women and Transgender shop hours

Policies, Politics, Allies

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Working in under-privileged communities

Working in under-privileged communities: challenges and opportunities

Notes

Facilitators:

Bike Kitchen/La Bici Digna (Arlen) and Bikerowave/Bici Libre (Bobby):


Keep your eyes on the prize (don’t forget why you’re doing this, don’t let your limitations stop you)


Dynamics in work space an issue, (shop isn’t located in the right place)

-try mobile workshop? La Bici Digna started with a mobil work shop at the day labor center working with City of Lights.


Low community buyin?

-try partnering w/ another organization that organizes in “that” community. (try contacting a country’s embassy to let them know you exist, find out what communities you want to encourage and talk to the leaders in that community)


Not enough Resources?

-try seeing groups that are stoked, already active.


Chill out. Be Patient (It takes time to build up trust and awareness of your resource.)


Stories:

Bici Libre got a free space to house abandoned bikes. They seek to provide a space where people can learn job skills and leadership skills. They have a list of activities that can be done by non-bike mechanic volunteers. Group jobs such as cleaning parts or cutting tubes can be really good for some cultures who will enjoy the communal experience. It’s important to talk to the poeple you are trying to engage to ask them what they want to contribute, or what they want to get out of it.


Sometimes the way we think the bicycle collective “should” run is not the way some under privileged communities want to run their own. Often, people will want to start a for-profit shop. It’s important to not get stuck in your ideas, to learn also how to communicate in another person’s language. You can use the terms they know, even if it’s the “wrong” term, whats important is that you both get on the same page. There’s a reason you are trying to engage a different dynamic in the bike shop, you should be willing to learn from new people, not just try to tell them what/how to do.


Multi lingual bike diagram:

La Bici Digna had a poster of a bike with lines to all the parts. They asked their participant to write on posted notes the names of the parts of the bike that they knew. With all the many dialects present, the digram ended up having four names for nearly every part.


Denver’s The Bike Depot works with [Big Brother] and [Big Sister]. They are then able to pay for kids to volunteer.


Lots of collectives have earn a bike programs, or free bikes to people on welfare.


One collective got a high school student credit for volunteering at the shop.

Another works directly with Refugee camps.


How do you deal with theft? - Story from the Bike Kitchen

The bike kitchen experienced a wave of theft. Bikes were being stolen right out side the shop, and also, many 15mm wrenches and other tools which might assist in bicycle theft. At first they were completely worried and frustrated that they were possibly assisting in that theft. But what they hadn’t expected was that this wave of bicycle theft resulted in the creation of a bike scene in the surrounding neighborhoods. The exact people who they were trying to get into the shop, trying to foster interest in the bicycle as a mode of transportation, started riding bikes. “It just wasn’t on our terms.” - Arlen (Bike Kitchen/La Bici Digna)


Workshop continues in #Classes, Workshops, Space

Outcome and Feedback

Working Together

Increasing Inter-Organization Collaboration. The intention of this workshop was to talk about all of the ways in which we as bicycle collectives of different sorts who run our services in many different ways, can share our experiences, successes, failures, and tangible output in order to help other collectives both start and continue to thrive.

Notes

Godwin directed this workshop while Bob Wolfe facilitated in providing a speakers list. A large sheet of paper was used to help keep visible notes, at the end of the discussion the notes were the following:

  • Current Tools
  • What we need these tools for
    • Learn how to start a collective
    • Learn how to continue running a collective
    • Find example documents
      • Volunteer Privileges
      • Todo for new volunteers
      • Financials
      • Fliers
      • Curricula
      • Manuals
      • 501c and not-for-profit forms
      • Tool lists
      • Inventory
      • Price guide
      • Mission statement
      • Bylaws
      • Safe space
      • Legal documents
      • Letters for grant writing
    • Find out how other organizations run their various programmes
    • Partner with other organizations
  • Brainstorming Ideas which could help
    • A Bike!Bike! Wiki
    • Have more involved wiki moderators who will make suggestions for improvements
    • News feed on wiki
    • Email individuals to improve pages
    • New list-serve other than the Think Tank which can be used for these emails
    • More list-serves for different purposes
    • Online Forums
    • Request documents, pages, and improvements once a year or at other regular intervals
    • Rid the wiki of closed shops
    • RSS feeds on the wiki
    • Separate blog or paper news
    • Paypal donations on BCN or the wiki
    • An umbrella or 'helping hand' organization
    • A seed fund
    • Micro Loans for starting up shops
    • A no-reply list-serve
  • An 'umbrella' organization goes against many principles that are held by most shops however a 'helping hand' organization that acts as a third party to facilitate to spread of knowledge and possibly funds would likely not.
  • To improve the wiki it will take some active moderating and contacting of individuals.
  • The wiki is difficult to navigate so it should be reorganized
  • Bikecollectives.org is not serving any other purpose other than providing the wiki.
  • The Think Tank is too much for many to handle, there are too many emails about things that many don't care about.
  • Godwin promised to contact the current owners of bikecollectives.org to see if improvements could be made.
  • Adding increased moderation of the wiki will be looked into

Outcome and Feedback

Working with relationships

Notes

Outcome and Feedback

Closing discussion - Bike!Bike! 2012

Notes

Around 40 attendees participated in the closing discussion on Sunday, June 26, at 11:00 AM at the San Marcos Public Library.

Suggestions

The discussion started with some suggestions on improving the flow of the conference. The lack of an evening discussion group would have made it easier to decompress from each days' activities. Missing facilitators were a notable occurrence, though most or all workshops turned into group discussions anyway. More proactive scheduling and announcements would have helped attendees better figure out what workshops were coming up and where to find them; posting official schedules at each location and on a Google calendar (for those with omnipresent network connections) and making lunchtime announcements might have worked well.

The loaner bikes from San Marcos, Yellow Bike Project, and Orange Bike Project were all handled really well, and the inaugural bike ride from Austin to San Marcos was an awesome way to break the ice and establish some camaraderie. The position and timing of locations was perfect; an attendee could roam across town relatively quickly but still make it with plenty of time to spare. The recommendation of cool-down spots was also very welcome, and the maps were helpful.

As a host city, San Marcos was superb. The small town atmosphere was incredible. The community was quick to give support and very accepting and welcoming of the attendees.

Matt's thoughts

As the primary organizer, Matt of the San Marcos Bike Project was asked how he thought the event came together. Speaking honestly, he thought it was terrible. From his perspective, the workshops sort of took care of themselves. Though he'd been working on Bike!Bike! for eight months, 90% of the actual work was done in the last week.

If he was doing it over again, he would have kept better records, including more centralized documents. Nothing that people do things when they're asked to, he would have done a lot more delegating. All in all, he spent about two hours a day working on it, but should have spent three.

70 people from out-of-town registered.

Other comments

All in all, the number of attendees seemed manageable -- not too many, not too few -- but there could have been more outreach to other groups. Regional Bike!Bike!s were identified as a double-edged sword; they made it easier for people to access them and were far more intimate affairs, but they also depress turnout at The Bike!Bike!. A big Bike!Bike! can have a big impact, and it may be worthwhile to maximize that impact.

Though San Marcos was an excellent host city, it was noted that small-market airports tend to be more expensive to fly into and out of, putting up a barrier to some smaller organizations. As San Marcos was not a "destination" in its own right, it was still a positive experience; few attendees would have gone to San Marcos on their own, but it showed that these events can have a different kind of draw and community impact.

Bike!Bike! 2012 bids

Sacramento

The Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen opened the bids for 2012. Noting that they've been operating for five years and moved into a stable and large space three years ago, they're reaching a maturity point as a collective. They have incredible community support for their special events.

As a city, Sacramento is committed to earning Gold status as a Bicycle Friendly Community, and Bike!Bike! would dovetail nicely with an indie bike cred fed by community initiatives to build a velodrome and bring the 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show and a 2012 bike polo tournament to town. And though it's trying for Gold status, the city leadership doesn't seem yet to know how to "do" bicycling, so Bike!Bike! could help provide even more guidance.

In terms of geography, Sacramento is easy to navigate, sits on major east-west and north-south rail lines, and is exceptionally flat. The bicycle friendly town of Davis is nearby, and the Davis Bike Collective just hosted a regional conference and could be tapped for support as Austin groups helped San Marcos.

Because of the desire to amplify their bicycle events, Sacramento would likely not bid for Bike!Bike! in the near future.

Los Angeles

The Bicycle Kitchen explicitly did not want to vie for 2012, but wanted to throw its hat in the ring now for 2013 or 2014.

The Kitchen has been open for seven years, and in those seven years, 11 other co-ops have started, likely to be 15 by 2013. The city has recently started its Ciclovia program, closing down seven miles of roadways to car traffic and letting real people take the streets. It's also a hip town, with a bicycle demolition derby in June and as many as 1,000 riders on a social ride on any given night.

The (admitted) goal in L.A. hosting is to break down some stereotypes of L.A. and show off the amazing things the region has been doing recently.

Columbus

Third Hand presented an argument for Columbus. There was an overarching silence in at the end of Bike!Bike! Toronto regarding Columbus' bid, and in that time, a second bike co-operative has opened in the Ohio city. Citing Columbus' status as a community on the edge of bike greatness and its large university, hosting a Bike!Bike! could help galvanize its cycle culture. The city sent three representatives to the conference this year, and has other cities (Cincinnati and Cleveland) nearby that it can draw on for resources. As a host city, Columbus would also be a step up from San Marcos in terms of size, and while June is a difficult month for co-ops, there is a big music festival in September that could be glommed onto.

Third Hand's space is also adjacent to a collective fabrication and workshop space, opening up options to facilitate hands-on creation, welding, screen-printing, and other creative arts.

Columbus strongly feels it is ready for a Bike!Bike! and may host a regional conference if their bid fails.

Digression

At this point, a few participants spoke up to reiterate that the decision on where to send Bike!Bike! in 2012 should revolve around the city's infrastructure, feasibility of transportation for participants, and the need of a region (not just one city) to feel he impact of Bike!Bike!. Bike!Bike! exists for information exchange, support, and outreach. A city's status as a nice vacation destination shouldn't give it a leg up or hold it down in vying for the conference.

Bids

Vancouver

In addition to a co-op on its university grounds, Vancouver's paid-staff-run shop operates out of two spaces. Vancouver itself is quite bike-friendly, with good infrastructure, plenty of bike organizing, a strong sport cycling culture, a bid for a new bike share program, mountains for trial riding, and natural barriers to the growth of the city. June, 2012 will also see a VeloCity commercial and planning conference, providing a unique opportunity to line up grassroots bicycle action against more corporate channels. Victoria, BC, and Bellingham, WA, are also close by for support.

As a special consideration, the Pacific Northwest has never seen a Bike!Bike! -- the closest to the region was the San Francisco conference.

Discussion

While Canadian representation at Bike!Bike! was significant, there were concerns that holding the conference two of three years in a Canadian city might put an undue burden on the majority American contingent.

Additionally, one hope with San Marcos was to bring in Mexican groups and bike collectives, but that did not materialize. On the plus side, most participants felt that Bike!Bike! made a tremendous impact in San Marcos, and the community was pleased with the respect and care Bike!Bike! attendees treated the public spaces used. Middle America could benefit greatly from this sort of experience.

Bids

Winnipeg

Like Los Angeles, Winnipeg was hoping to start vying for hosting Bike!Bike! in 2013. The city has grown by leaps and bounds and currently boasts eight bike co-ops and various school shops. Despite its weather, it has become a cycling community, though because it is a generally low-income place, bicycles are seen as functional, not fashionable, though many elements of a strong cycle culture exist there: a ciclovia, bike polo, tall bike groups, and so on.

Discussion

Bike!Bike! locations have tried to move regionally -- north and south as well as from coast to coast. Sacramento and Vancouver benefit from the fact that the conference has not been further west than San Marcos in four years, even though coastal states are seeing an immense bicycle growth -- L.A. doesn't even need Bike!Bike!, but wants it.

There were some concerns about how well Bike!Bike! and VeloCity could co-exist if held simultaneously. On the plus side, it could force a conversation between two different bike cultures, but a large corporate-sponsored event could easily sideline Bike!Bike!.

Columbus' suggestion to hold Bike!Bike! in September could backfire; it would make attendance extremely difficult for most students. There was also some concern that two smallish host cities in a row could depress attendance and cause Bike!Bike! to lose traction going forward.

Bike!Bike!'s effectiveness as an outreach tool was called into question. While there was interaction with locals, most of the conversations and discussions were held with fellow participants. This, however, does help re-energize volunteers to work in their own shops and communities. The outreach opportunities with Bike!Bike! are usually accidental or incidental as people read about and watch the conference. The organizing for Bike!Bike! and the impact it has is usually best seen long after the conference has disbanded. Columbus and Sacramento could both benefit from that push.

In terms of geographic priorities, it was noted that the conference is in the South now and hosted by a small city, so preference should be given to a large Northern city. Attendees also seemed to enjoy the idea of connecting scruffy bike punks to besuited planners that a simultaneous VeloCity-Bike!Bike! schedule could entail.

The Bicycle Kitchen recommended holding a straw poll to get initial preferences among attendees for the various cities. All bids had a willingness and the ability to host Bike!Bike!, so the decision should come down to what the participants were looking for in the next Bike!Bike!. After that, the bidding cities should meet separately to hash out between them who would host, as happened at the end of Bike!Bike! 2010.

Results

After a long discussion period, Vancouver was announced as the host city for Bike!Bike! 2012.

Contact

Bike!Bike! International Conferences
Annual 2005 (New Orleans) · 2005 (Tucson) · 2006 (Milwaukee) · 2007 (Pittsburgh) · 2008 (San Francisco) · 2009 (Minneapolis) · 2010 (Toronto) · 2011 (San Marcos) · 2012 (Vancouver) · 2013 (New Orleans) · 2014 (Columbus) · 2015 (Guadalajara) · 2016 (Detroit)
Regional Southeast 2009 (Atlanta) · Southeast 2012 (Birmingham)