By Casey Stepaniuk
It’s that time of year again, Vancouverites: spring! One of my favourite things about spring is getting outside on my bike again. I know some of us are hard-core bikers that cycle right through the long rainy winter—and this year, a surprising amount of snow—but I consider myself more of a fair weather biker and usually don’t get my bike outside until the sun is shining more often and the temperature warms up a bit.
But leaving my bike to rest over the winter usually means it needs a tune-up or at least a double check up to make sure everything is still working a-okay. If you’re in the same situation, and a woman, trans, and/or queer person like me, why not check out the women’s, trans, and queer nights at Vancouver’s Bike Co-ops? You can learn to do your own tune-ups and go to bike mechanics workshops for free / cheap / sliding scale prices, all in a “bro-free” environment that is geared towards folks who have traditionally not been a dominant part of the bike industry. All of these non-profit organizations are also always looking for volunteers! Here are three options:
Kickstand is volunteer-run community bike shop at the corner at Commercial Drive and Venables (1739 Venables). You can get your bike tuned up there or learn how to tune it up yourself! They also sell refurbished bikes, offer plenty of workshops, and occasionally do art projects using recycled bike parts. They have a bike shop night for women, genderqueer, and trans folks every second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 6:30 – 8:30pm. The nights are facilitated by women and gender variant mechanics who are there to answer your questions and help you fix your bike. Shop time on these nights is FREE! Between 7:30 – 8:30 the mechanics give basic bike mechanics workshops, with a different topic each week!
Bike Kitchen at UBC is a student-owned, non-profit community bike shop located on campus (1896 East Mall). You can use the shop to fix up your bike by yourself ($ 7.50/hour) or with help ($ 15.00/hour) or if you don’t have the time or inclination you can leave it with the mechanics for varying prices depending on what needs done! They also sell refurbished bikes and parts, which UBC students get a 10% discount on. They have women and queer nights from 6:00-9:00pm every second Wednesday of the month. It’s a positive space for trans women, cis women, queer and genderqueer folks of all levels of experience. Female and/or LGBTQ2I identified mechanics and volunteers lead these nights!
Our Community Bikes is a collectively run community bike shop in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood near Main and Broadway (2429 Main Street). They have a policy of making the space welcoming and respectful for everyone and believe that “everyone should feel comfortable doing D.I.Y. repairs regardless of ability, age, gender, identity, income, or sexual orientation.” Self service including instruction is $ 10-20 an hour; alternatively, they offer full service by the shop’s mechanics. You can also buy new and used parts and refurbished bikes there! They have a women’s, trans, and queer night from 6:30-9:30pm every first and third Wednesday of the month.
Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian-in-training who runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find LGBTQ+ Canadian book reviews and a queer book advice column. She also writes for Book Riot. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian
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