Volunteers turn old bikes into working campus wheels

What's purple and yellow and sped all over? Recycled bicycles from the new Alma Mater Society (AMS) Bike Co-op.

By refurbishing bikes that are abandoned on campus each year, the AMS Bike Co-op aims to provide a fleet of 100 bikes by September to reduce the reliance on cars at the university. The first bikes in the fleet hit the streets this summer.

"This program makes biking a more viable means of transportation at UBC," says Ted Buehler, president of the AMS Bike Co-op. "With universal access to a fleet of bicycles, people have an alternative to using a car when making short trips across campus."

Co-op members pay $20 to join and a $5 deposit for a key that unlocks the padlocks of all bikes in the fleet. Members who participate in rebuilding and maintaining bikes qualify for a reduced membership fee.

Co-op members are responsible for providing their own helmets. Members who need a helmet can buy one at cost from the co-op.

The program supports the university's goal of reducing single occupancy car travel to UBC by 20 per cent over the next five years.

Volunteers repair donated bikes in shop space made available by the Landscape Architecture program. Volunteers meet on Tuesdays from 3 p.m.-9 p.m. to fix and paint bikes, build shelving and hanging storage and scrap bikes for parts.

The group is seeking funding to support a co-ordinator or head mechanic position as well as donations of paint, shelves, office supplies, tools and a bike trailer. It aims to set up a permanent bike shop on campus which will sell and repair bikes and teach bicycle repair and safety courses.

The group also hopes to provide a mobile maintenance and repair service. They are seeking a volunteer bike mechanic who can pedal to cyclists in distress to make minor repairs, fix flats or oil chains.

The AMS Bike Co-op is a partnership of Landscape Architecture, the UBC Trek program, and Housing and Conferences which provides discarded bikes. Our Community Bikes!, a non-profit bike shop, is providing tools and mechanical training.

For more information about the AMS Bike Co-op, visit their Web site at www.interchange.ubc.ca/buehler/bikecoop/