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A bicycle cooperative ("bike coop"), bicycle co-operative ("bike co-op"), bicycle kitchen, bicycle collective, or community bike shop is an 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 non-profit organizations or social enterprises. Not all bike co-ops are true cooperatives.
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. 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.
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. Bike Pirates in Toronto is one example of a co-op which uses 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 inside an Australian "community environment park" existed rent-free until recently. That co-op still charges just US$8 for a one-year membership, including unlimited shop time.
The cost of new or used parts is normally extra, but typically substantially below retail prices. Some workshops do stock new items, such as brake pads, inner tubes, and bearings.
Parts are sourced from public donations; children's bikes are often donated when the rider outgrows them. Sometimes, abandoned bikes are obtained from police stations or street cleaning firms, or from large institutions such as 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. 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.
- Bicycle library
- Local bike shop
- Maintenance and repair (in Bicycle): discusses self-service, full-service, and roadside assistance
- "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.
- Duregger, Michelle (30 April 2010). "The Anti-Shop". Bicycling. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
The Recyclery is Oklahoma City's first bike co-op, open three days a week. Everything is free--tools, advice from bicycle-savvy volunteers, workshops, parts and frames. It's stocked by donations from community members and a couple of bike-shop employees, and is run by volunteers.
- Forbes, Rob (28 April 2009). "Bike Kitchens: Building Community, Bikes". Yes! Magazine. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- Crane, Gabe (Spring 2007). "The Rise of the Bike Kitchen". Next American City. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012.
- Cross, Kim (20 February 2015). "The Fixer". Bicycling. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
The popular connotation is that co-ops are for urban twenty-somethings who want a fixed-gear bike. But they're more for people who don't know anything about bikes, want a community to connect with, or want a cheap and super-easy mode of transportation.
- 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.
- Bike Workshops Research. Research into bike workshops led by Simon Batterbury, University of Melbourne.
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