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A bicycle cooperative ("bike coop"), bicycle co-operative ("bike co-op"), bicycle kitchen, or community bike shop is a non-profit assisted-service bicycle repair shop. Precise definition of these terms is difficult, since some charge fees, all have slightly different goals, and diverse histories. Generally they are not-for-profit organizations or social enterprises.
Individuals bring in bicycles needing repair or maintenance, or seek to build one from spare parts; volunteers teach them how to do the required steps.[clarification needed — see talk] The users learn repair skills which are useful both for breakdowns on the road and for at-home repairs. Co-ops also sell new and used bike parts and a few charge for repairs. In addition, they may provide other services, such as selling refurbished bikes and offering formal group bike-repair classes.
Workshops are part of the alternative or non-capitalist urban economy based on volunteering and self-help. Most lack a profit motive and a few, especially in Europe, have staff paid through national unemployment schemes. However some workshops do become social enterprises and small scale businesses over time, for example Cyclo in Brussels, Belgium.
Costs to users
Some bike co-ops charge users a set fee of between US$5 and US$20 per hour for "shop time" — for the use of their space and tools. They tend to waive the fee for low-income users. Other co-ops use a pay what you want strategy: they request that each user make a donation.
Co-ops with lower overhead costs are often more relaxed about cost recovery. For example, one co-op, the BikeShed, inside a large "community environment park" in Australia existed rent-free until recently. That co-op charges about US$10 for a one-year membership, which includes unlimited shop time.
The cost of new or used parts is normally extra, but secondhand and substantially below retail prices. Some workshops stock new items like brake pads, inner tubes and bearings.
Parts are sourced from public donations (children's bikes are frequently donated when the rider becomes too big for them), and sometimes abandoned bikes are sourced from police stations and street cleaning firms, and large institutions like schools and universities.
Some early bike co-ops started out on the west coast of the US; one example is the Bike Kitchen in San Francisco, which took its name from a similar cooperative, The Bicycle Kitchen -la Bicicocina. The Bicycle Kitchen owns its own building and refers to its volunteers as cooks. Another early bike co-op was the Fahrrad.Selbsthilfe.Werkstatt, founded in 1983 in a formerly squatted factory in Vienna, Austria.
Bike co-ops can now be found worldwide. The Bike Collective Network wiki includes a list of hundreds of co-ops scattered throughout a few dozen countries. The list is sorted by country and by province/state.
- Local bike shop
- Maintenance and repair (in Bicycle): discusses self-service, full-service, and roadside assistance
- Lane, Ruth & Simon.P.J Batterbury. 2014. Bike shed cooperatives as a window on urban political ecology. Association of American Geographers annual meeting, Florida.
- See, for example: "Frequently asked questions » How much does it cost to fix my bike at Bike Pirates?". Toronto, Canada: Bike Pirates Bicycle Club. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
How much does it cost to fix my bike at Bike Pirates? That depends on you. [...]
- See http://www.thebikeshed.org.au/ and http://www.thebikeshed.org.au/WhatIsCERES.aspx.
- "Community Bicycle Organizations". Bike Collective Network wiki. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Bike Collective Network: An umbrella association of bike co-ops and other organizations.
- Community Bicycle Organizations: A list of bike co-ops worldwide, sorted by country and by province/state.
- International Bicycle Fund community bike programs directory. Many of the groups in this directory, though not all of them, are co-ops.
- Heureux Cyclage . A network of over 200 workshops across french-speaking Europe, which also holds an annual meeting.
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