Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The Bicycle Diaries: Last Entry

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I took our two bicycles to Our Community Bikes this morning. I was responding to a Tweet I had seen yesterday that said donated bikes could get to “new Canadians”. So I thought of the increase in refugees that we are seeing Canada accept, and I liked the idea that maybe a Ukrainian might find one of our old bikes useful. There is, of course, no way to tell who will get the bike you donate – and maybe it just gets used for parts or something. And since this is currently tax form completing season for last year, the thought of another tax receipt was also welcome.

The shop is on Main Street near the junction with Broadway, which is going to be the location of a new underground station. So lanes are closed, turns are banned and access is a bit awkward. The idea is that you park in the lane and they come and take the bike, or bikes, from you when you call them. The lane is blocked at the southern end by the Broadway works. And, on this occasion, by a large truck which has backed down to deliver supplies to a restaurant. I get out of its way by going to an anonymous space which turns out not to be their back door after all. By the time I have taken the bikes off the bike rack and taken that off the back of the car and stowed it in the trunk, I notice that this has taken me 15 minutes – so rather longer than “I’ll be right out” lead me to expect. Two other people are also trying to donate bikes – and calling the shop but getting no response. The large delivery truck has now left so I can move my car closer to the back of the shop but then the recycling truck shows up. By gestures and a bit of shunting we get ourselves sorted out, and I go to the front door to see why we are being made to wait so long. I get a lecture about their mask policies instead.

I go back to the alley and find that one person seems to have just left his bike and gone and another is being told that her bike is not wanted as it is too old. They do take both the bikes I have, as well as the various accessories we will no longer need, like the bike locks, pump, helmets, two spare wheels and so on. My bike, while old is a bit like the hammer that has had two new heads and three new handles. My partner’s bike is six years old and cost $700 then. So I am gutted to hear that we do not qualify for a tax receipt. It is too late to put the bikerack back on the car and reload the bikes so I accept what seems a blatantly unreasonable decision. After all, writing a tax receipt doesn’t actually cost them anything at all.

The guy who is driving the recycling truck, who has been delayed by my car’s use of the alley, is very friendly. He remarks on the obvious value of my partner’s bike and is surprised by our willingness to give it up. I tell him I think that it is better that someone gets to use a bike that has been just sitting in a garage for two years.

My partner does not like cycling where we live. There are too many cars and too much speeding. We have used bike sharing systems in New York, Paris and Denver (and a rental in San Francisco) but have never used the one in Vancouver. We walk a lot, and take transit or an Evo if it seems like we have walked too far that day. Our nearest ShawGo station is about as far as the nearest Modo – and we haven’t used that either for the same reason. I cannot manage the hills which surround us in three of the four main compass points, and I blogged about the great electric wheel disaster some time ago. I also find that our local bike lanes tend to be badly designed – paint is no protection and sharrows actually make things worse.

So maybe, once we get to travel again, we may rent bikes once more. But Vancouver needs to get serious about protected bike lanes – and ebikes have to be one of the choices to get me on a bikeshare here. I hope whoever gets one of our bikes gets plenty of use out of them.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 24, 2022 at 1:49 pm

Posted in bicycles

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3 Responses

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  1. our community bikes is like any bicycle shop 🙂 sometimes they are super friendly, sometimes they are super intimidating and often in between! i agree of course that sharrows suck and we need more protected bicycle lanes


    April 23, 2022 at 8:35 am

  2. It would be wrong to blame Our Community Bikes as an institution for the behaviour of one individual who was clearly Having a Bad Day.

    Stephen Rees

    April 23, 2022 at 9:18 am

  3. you’re right ! but people don’t think that way 🙂 one bad encounter with a staff person having a bad day and they judge the bicycle shop to be not to so great. i am not a judgmental person for these sorts of situations; sadly many people are!


    April 23, 2022 at 12:51 pm

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