Spring weather is here to stay!
What does that mean? Bike rides! Amongst other things, of course. On top of that, if you need to repair your bike, a new co-op here in London can help.
The Squeaky Wheel Bike Co-Op is ready to repair everything from flat tires to, you guessed it, squeaky wheels.
“One of the big blocks we see with people who want to cycle is sometimes simple repairs.” Susan Anthony, the volunteer organizer, said.
She said that the co-op provides the tools and assistance needed for bike maintenance, instead of cyclists using their own tools. The co-op will also host workshops about bike repairs.
“For some things, it’s very easy for someone to learn, especially if they want to learn.”
How the co-op came to be
Daniel Hall, the London Cycle Link director, said that the co-op emerged from that same organization.
“We wanted to develop the bike culture in London, so we applied for a grant with the city to get some money to help us get off the ground quicker,” he said.
Volunteer Anna Bird became involved because of both her dad and uncle’s involvement with the London Cycle Link. The teenager said that biking is her main mode of transportation.
“Most of my friends, I find, don’t bike because their bikes are broken and they don’t know how to fix it,” she said, adding that they can learn by coming into the co-op.
Volunteers and board members are “steering the ship”
Hall said that there are about 12 to 15 regular volunteers. He added there are plans to have about four to five members on a committee that will be “steering the ship” and other operations of the co-op.
“As volunteers sign up, we don’t want them to be just consumers of the space. We want them to be very involved and involved as volunteers as well,” he said.
Creating a sense of community
Bonnie Lee, a London Cycle Link board member, said the co-op aims to be “a community hub for cycling.” She added it represents the keen interest in cycling. She also said that it would show the need for bike-related infrastructure.
“A lot of people, especially drivers, think that nobody wants to ride their bike or there’s no need to support cycling, but there very much is. There are lots of people who want to ride bikes,” Lee said.
She added the Old East Village (OEV) is a great place to meet that goal.
Is London a good city to cycle in?
Anthony said that London is “safer than a lot of people think it is” when it comes to cycling. She acknowledged there are some areas that are “very tricky to get around by bike.”
Anthony said that it’s important for both drivers and cyclists to share the road. She said the London Cycle Link encourages a cycle-friendly city so people feel more comfortable cycling in London.
“The more that people bike, the safer it would be for everybody,” Anthony said, “I’ve been cycling here since I moved here and I love it because it’s not a lot of hills you have to worry about.”
Hall said that he enjoys cycling in London, but feels unsafe cycling in some areas of it. He said the organization would like to see a cycle track.
Although City Council passed a motion to put one on Queens Avenue and Colborne Street, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plans for a couplet on Queens and King Street may change the cycle track’s location.
“We think that [a cycle track is] a game changer in terms of safe infrastructure that works for both drivers and cyclists,” Hall said.
“We’re hopeful that will happen soon. I know City Hall is also hopeful to see it happen.”
Squeaky Wheel member Luis Patricio said that now is a good time to make London a more cycle-friendly city. “It’s much easier if we try to make London a bike friendly city now than to wait when we have one million cars and then try to shift,” he said.
Patricio added that he first got into cycling because it was inexpensive, but he finds it more enjoyable than any other form of transportation. “I can actually live, feel and see the city when I’m cycling.”
London Cycle Link member Tim Pearson said he has always advocated for cycling. He said the London Cycle Link has worked with City Hall on making London more cycle-friendly.
“There’s lots of evidence out there that shows that the better the infrastructure is, the safer it is, the more people will cycle and ultimately that’s what we want to achieve.”
How much will it cost to be a member?
Anthony said that the membership fee depends on financial needs.
There was a poster on the door leading into the co-op that said it’s $20 annually. There is also an annual $30 family rate available.
She added that the place will not be in competition with repair shops.
“They do amazing service. They have incredibly skilled people that can do things so perfectly and so wonderfully and we really appreciate what they do,” she explained.
The Squeaky Wheel Bike Co-op resides on 792 Dundas Street.
Feature photo by Emily Stewart