[The FC Bike Co-Op is one of Bike Fort Collins’ oldest partners in local bike community development in advocacy. We’re thrilled to include them as regular contributors to our new blog. Here’s a brief primer on the Co-op’s history and vision and programs. They’ll be updating us on a monthly basis with all things Co-op. – CJ]
The Fort Collins Bike Co-op was founded in 2003 as the Bike Against Collective in a residential garage by Rafael Cletero. Raf started Bike Against as a way to help his friends and neighbors get their bikes repaired and rideable. As word about Raf’s generosity spread, the Collective quickly outgrew its home in his garage. It moved into a commercial space and continued to be best-known within the community as a place where people could go to get help fixing their bikes.
Bike Against expanded to help keep bikes out of the local landfill by accepting donations of bikes, parts and accessories, and its Earn-a-Bike program was founded and took off almost immediately as the most visible of its programs. A few more years went by and Bike Against applied for 501c3 non-profit status. The organization became The Bicycle Cooperative of Fort Collins when it was officially incorporated. A volunteer Board of Directors was formed to address administrative concerns, and the mission statement “building community through bicycling” became the foundation for all of the Bike Co-op’s activities.
So what exactly does the Bike Co-op do? This question is raised on a pretty regular basis and the short answer is: a lot. To break it down:
- We hold Open Shop hours during which customers can come and buy bikes, parts and service. Our mechanic services differ from any other shop in Northern Colorado in that when a customer brings their bike in for work, we pair the customer with a mechanic who teaches them how to do the repairs. The customer is the one wielding the tools and doing the work, and the mechanic coaches them through the process. We do this for everything from fixing flats to repacking bearing systems to drive train adjustments…and more!
- We hold Work Nights for our volunteers to work on bikes and internal projects such as recycling, retail bike and Earn-A-Bike builds.
- We recycle almost everything. Our landfill contributions amount to a single residential-sized garbage can of trash every two weeks. If we can’t reuse it or upcycle it, we recycle it. Local artists approach us frequently for wheels and frames and other items otherwise destined to be recycled and we happily give away nonworking parts.
- Our Earn-A-Bike program is still our most popular program and is still going strong. We give out 15 applications per month for the program. EAB candidates must volunteer a number of hours in the community and, once they do, we build them a bike.
- Our Women’s & LGBT Wrenching Nights are a wildly popular, fairly recent addition to our programs. Taught by female mechanics in a safe atmosphere, Women’s Wrenching Nights endeavours to get more women working on their own bikes by providing an introduction to basic bike mechanics, fit, maintenance and repairs. Participation in Women’s & LGBT Wrenching Nights is restricted to women and LGBT populations.
- We work with various nonprofits and businesses throughout the Northern Colorado community to further our mission and support local bike culture, safety and education. Some of these include the Matthews House, Turn Around Bikes, Bikes for Tykes, the Committee for Sustainable Energy, Bike Fort Collins, the Overland Mountain Bike Club and many more.
- We are one of the nonprofit recipients of Tour De Fat, the Labor Day bike parade and extravaganza hosted generously by New Belgium Brewing. Our project bikes are also a great resource for anyone looking to build a Tour De Fat bike, and we have seen these bikes turn into some incredible contraptions over the years.
- We are always looking for volunteers, and we require absolutely no experience to volunteer with us. We need volunteers for everything from the Art Department to the steering committee to grant writing and fundraising to event coordination and staffing to Open Shop Co-op Representatives and Mechanics to work night wrenches and recycling specialists. Sign up to volunteer on our website!
At 13 years old, the Fort Collins Bike Co-op is still running strong. In fact, we recently purchased property at 1501 N. College and relocated in October 2015. We have an incredibly devoted Board of Directors and a boatload of amazingly hard-working, bike-loving volunteers. We know we wouldn’t still be here, however, without the incredible community we serve. Fort Collins is an awesome town for cycling, and that shows especially at the Bike Co-op, where our customer base is as diverse as the bikes they ride. So come on by sometime and say hello! We’d love to welcome you to the Bike Co-op. We’re here for Open Shop Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 2-5pm and Sundays 12-6pm, and you can find us on the web at http://fcbikecoop.org.
If you have any questions you’d like to email us, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to connecting with you!
Dondi is a year-round commuter cyclist, freelance writer and Co-op Representative at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op. In addition to “Building Community Through Bicycling” she enjoys road rides, rock climbing and baking treats every Sunday for the Bike Co-op’s velonteer crew. You can reach her at email@example.com.