Hi Beth,

I'm with the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op - we're a blend of a traditional nonprofit (with the mission of bicycle education) and a co-operative organization (our board is comprised of members, members do a lot of the work on bikes that we sell/use in programs). We have been in existence for about 6 years in total, and 4 years with a physical location, and have just recently started to seriously seek funding from the city and some private foundations. Our model is a little different from other bike nonprofits, but you might find some good information on our web site anyway; our adult shop class curriculum is on there, and although it isn't completely up to date (we have expanded the first class to include basically everything someone owning a bike and not wanting to do self-maintenance needs to know, and now give it away free with every bike purchase). We also have a manual of a lot of common volunteer bike tasks, although some of it is org-specific.

We are also working on a database system for bicycle nonprofits, which will hopefully be in releasable shape later this year (all open-source, and documented). I'm about to submit a grant to polish it up and add the functionality it needs (we have been limping by on a half-done version for a year or so). It will allow tracking of volunteering, membership trends, services delivered, and cover intake-to-exit tracking of bicycles, all of which are pretty important success metrics if you're seeking funding. I'll send out a message on the thinktank list when it's done.

I won't give you any advice now, since I don't really know what your goals are for the project, but I will say that we store our backstock of bikes by making rows of about 20-30 up against a wall, putting a big piece of plywood on top of them (about 12 feet long, I'd say) and putting another row on top. The bottom row is easily placeable by one person, and the top is easy for two. All you need to do is turn the handlebar of the bike against the wall 90 degrees so it sits flat and alternate the direction of the rest of the bikes. Done well, the piles are totally stable and allow access to at least a few bikes without gathering a work crew. The ones that we have out for sale are just stood on kickstands or some things that we got from a bike shop donation that you stick the left crank into that hold the bike up. Our rental/loaner/program fleet is hung from various 2x12s hanging from the ceiling on screwhooks.

Well, I will give one bit of advice. Whatever it is you want to do exactly, get as friendly with bike shops as you can, and make it clear that what you're doing isn't a threat to their business. Some of them will never understand, but most of them can see the light. If you're getting bikes on the road cheap, you're hurting walmart, not the LBS, and if you're educating people about riding, that will lead to more riding, and probably more buying nice bikes at bike shops. Once they're your allies, they can be a source of word of mouth, possibly bike donations (if a customer is considering buying a new bike but can't figure out what to do with the old one, a little "donate it to these guys" might push them over the edge), and possibly materials, like Jonathan mentioned. I think things would be different for us here if more than one or two bike shops in Cleveland thought of us as competition. You probably already knew this, but if not, it matters - bike shop owners are just one more group of people to educate!

Let me know if you have any questions - as you can probably guess, we try very hard to make everything that we know available to other bike collectives.


On 1/14/07, velocipede-bikes@riseup.net < velocipede-bikes@riseup.net> wrote:
Hello out there--

I'm new to this list, working on Baltimore's first bike collective.  We're
woking towards our first year of active existence, and we have lot's of
questions and could use any advice we can get.  In paticular we are trying
to figure out the best way to store bikes efficiently and
inexpensively...Also we are working on starting up mechanics classes for
kids and adults and would appreciate any advice, curricula, written
materials, or funding sources anyone could shoot our way...

I sent something out to all the bike collectives before, but I thought I'd
try this list as well and see what came up....

thanks in advance--
i'm excited that this list exists!
-beth of Velocipede Bike Project
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