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Would like to start a bike co-op (this may be the wrong forum) mods move if you want

Old 10-18-12, 02:03 AM
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Would like to start a bike co-op (this may be the wrong forum) mods move if you want

A co worker and I would like to start a bike co op when we retire where kids and adults could come in the choose a bike that needs work or bring one in that needs work and after working to get the bike in shape could own the bike for a small donation of parts or money or time. I don't have the foggiest idea how to start and what we would need in the way of insurance protection or a bond to cover such things as injuries to those working on the bikes. I also don't want to step on the toes of our local bike shops and would hope to enlist their backing or at least get their input on how to proceed if possible. If anyone has done something like this what are the pitfalls and yes the rewards to helping lower and even kids and adults that aren't so low income do work on a bike that would be theirs and teach them how to work on their bikes. I'm open to ideas both pro and con. Thanks for the input in advance.
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Old 10-18-12, 02:52 AM
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This is a great idea. Be sure to look around and see who does what as far as bike co-ops are concerned. A lot of states have them. I read an article about one in Chicago that rocks. They have a program set up for the kids and they "buy" their stuff to build a bike. For example, if you had a bike that had worn brakes, you would have to "buy" new ones from the shop. No money is exchanged.... but pay is in hours. So, for example, perhaps a pair of brakes would cost you 2 hours of work. Work can be done on your bike or in the shop to keep it orderly. So it is like a working classroom. It's pretty neat.

I took a class at one in Philly and enjoyed it. They have adult education too.

Look around, look on the web and find different ones and call up and talk with them.
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Old 10-18-12, 06:28 AM
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Have a look at this site https://www.bikecollectives.org/ ... lot of information and contacts.

If it's just the two of you, I'd advise trying to partner some other groups/ organization. For example, in Canada some chapters of Habitat for Humanity also supports bikes. In my town, a suburban Lion's club started a small co-op.

If you have trouble locating anyone, think about forming an informal "bike kitchen" where people can bring their bikes in and work on them. You help them out. Might be an easy way to start up.

Reason I say this is that a full-blown bike co-op is a lot of work, needing many hands.
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Old 10-18-12, 07:44 AM
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There's a great one in Iowa City, too: www.bikelibrary.org

Keys to their success:
- charge a deposit so that users will be encouraged to take care of the bike and return it when they're done (it's a library after all)
- to the above point, get a good system of record-keeping
- do NOT sell new parts. You can sell old junk, and get a QBP account to get tools and parts you'll need, but selling new parts puts you in competition with the bike stores
- have days/nights during the week to focus on different things. When you separate the "catalog and evaluate donations", "fix up the bikes", and "teach newbies the basics" activities, you can get a lot more done
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Old 10-18-12, 07:46 AM
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You might want to ask for help in the Advocacy and Safety section of bikeforums, but to be honest, I don't find the people there to be terribly helpful. gerv's suggestion is good. Connect with others who have started a coop.

I'd love to be involved in one, but I just don't have the time. I can't keep my hands off bikes, and I love helping people, especially when it encourages them to ride more.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:18 AM
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I don't know where you are in WA state but if you want to get a close up look at such an operation I believe there is some kind of campus co-op at WWU, that my daughter has availed herself of at times. I can ask her for more information if you like.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:30 AM
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These guys do pretty much exactly what you are describing. Might be worth chatting with them for some ideas and tips
https://thehubofdetroit.org/
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Old 10-18-12, 06:34 PM
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Thanks for the tips. this is going to be a retirement gig so we won't have regular jobs to worry about. I wouldn't dream of taking this on while I'm working a full time job.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:07 PM
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A limited liability company (LLC) is a flexible form of enterprise that blends elements of partnership and corporate structures. It is a legal form of company that provides limited liability to its owners in the vast majority of United States jurisdictions. LLCs do not need to be organized for profit.

This definition of an LLC from Wickepedia might be something you would be interested in. If you create the bike shop you speak of an LLC would prevent anyone from sueing you for your personal assets. They would only be able to sue the bike shop, and from what you describe it sounds like a non-profit venture therefore any suits brought against you would be moot.
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Old 10-18-12, 08:43 PM
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This "about" page from the Cincinnati bike coop will give you some ideas.
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Old 10-19-12, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
I'd love to be involved in one, but I just don't have the time. I can't keep my hands off bikes, and I love helping people, especially when it encourages them to ride more.
I volunteer at my local co-op. It's a great way to help out without it taking over your entire life.
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Old 10-19-12, 10:35 AM
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Here is a link to the bike co-op in Pittsburgh:

https://freeridepgh.org/about/who-we-are/
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Old 10-19-12, 11:26 AM
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Maybe a field trip to Eugene, the Center for Appropriate Transport,
is still going , there https://www.catoregon.org/

Jan Van der Tuin has kept it going with the help of grants for the part that teaches
'at risk' kids to make something with their hands..
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Old 10-19-12, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by stringbreaker
A co worker and I would like to start a bike co op when we retire where kids and adults could come in the choose a bike that needs work or bring one in that needs work and after working to get the bike in shape could own the bike for a small donation of parts or money or time. I don't have the foggiest idea how to start and what we would need in the way of insurance protection or a bond to cover such things as injuries to those working on the bikes. I also don't want to step on the toes of our local bike shops and would hope to enlist their backing or at least get their input on how to proceed if possible. If anyone has done something like this what are the pitfalls and yes the rewards to helping lower and even kids and adults that aren't so low income do work on a bike that would be theirs and teach them how to work on their bikes. I'm open to ideas both pro and con. Thanks for the input in advance.
Try to get to Bellingham and check out this place.....

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-H...35678449814165

They are great folks there and would probably answer any questions you have.
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Old 10-20-12, 10:08 AM
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Stringbreaker, talk to the guy's at Bike works. They are located in Seattle and more specifically Columbia City. What you are talking about is exactly what they do. They may give you some advice. Good luck
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Old 10-20-12, 01:58 PM
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Where are you in WA? This is kinda my dream too. If you're in the South Sound area, get in touch.
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Old 10-20-12, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by anichka
Where are you in WA? This is kinda my dream too. If you're in the South Sound area, get in touch.
Sumner/Bonney Lake/Puyallup area.
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Old 10-20-12, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Ira B
Try to get to Bellingham and check out this place.....

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-H...35678449814165

They are great folks there and would probably answer any questions you have.
This is an awesome shop... I really enjoyed my visit there.
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Old 10-20-12, 07:58 PM
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This place was my intro to a co-op: https://vimeo.com/46558065

I've been looking for a place similar around here in Oly, but I haven't found one yet. I think there might be something associated with Evergreen though - just haven't checked it out completely.

If you have enough volunteers, will it really take up so much time that you have to wait till retirement? Somehow I just don't think it would be too hard to find people in this area who love bikes to volunteer on a regular basis.
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Old 10-20-12, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
This is an awesome shop... I really enjoyed my visit there.

They saved my bacon on a couple of vintage projects with their parts buckets and Kyle is a super cool guy.
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Old 10-20-12, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by anichka
This place was my intro to a co-op: https://vimeo.com/46558065

I've been looking for a place similar around here in Oly, but I haven't found one yet. I think there might be something associated with Evergreen though - just haven't checked it out completely.

If you have enough volunteers, will it really take up so much time that you have to wait till retirement? Somehow I just don't think it would be too hard to find people in this area who love bikes to volunteer on a regular basis.
My experience has been when you need volunteers to actually do what they have committed to do and usually they are very sincere about it that soon things start to fall off and the first thing you know its taking more and more of your time when you weren't supposed to be shouldering the majority of the burden in the first place. My co-worker and I are of the mind that if you get folks to help that's great just don't count on it and keep the control in as few as hands as possible. we want this to be really informal and keep it small enough for two guys to manage and at first just do it in the fall winter and early spring months and shut it down in the summer. Subject to change of course
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Old 10-30-12, 02:00 PM
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One more link for you. These folks might be able to answer some of those questions:
https://boisebicycleproject.org/Welcome.html

Good luck. That's a great service to provide your community.
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Old 10-30-12, 09:24 PM
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In Seattle the local non-profit: https://www.thebikery.org

Critical besides a big heart and dedication are the following:

Zero cost or ultra cheap workshop space with lots of storage.

A clear and easy to sell vision statement to get community support.

IRS 501 (c) 3 status as a non-profit, not an LLC. It takes a while to get IRS approval and its a complex set of forms to fill out, but in the meantime to accept donations that are tax deductions to the donors and not taxable to you, you can partner with another local non-profit, whether the YMCA, recycling/green orgs, community foundation, Kiwanis, etc.

A website. You can find hosting for $10/month and use Wordpress or similar blog software, which is free to develop your site.

Also, the key to community support is to get as many people from the community involved.
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Old 10-30-12, 09:55 PM
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I'm always looking for someone to send a Box-O-crap to. Might be a fun option when you get up and running...
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Old 02-08-13, 09:49 AM
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sorry if this is repeated info, but didn't see it. https://www.bikecollectives.org/ has an email listserv type thing that is all coops and collectives. I currently don't work or run a coop, but am interested in doing so and am doing some bike related work for some local chairites as well as planning a bike swap. I've used them a little bit, but mostly enjoy the discussion on there. They've been very open with me. A wealth of experience there.
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