Bike Dump Volunteer Mechanic Orientation
This covers all the information you need to give to new volunteers during an orientation. Orientations happen the second Wednesday of every month, and are given by that month's volunteer coordinator. Make sure to get new members' contact info (phone/email) and to pass it on to whomever is managing the email list and put it on the Google docs contact list. All volunteers are supposed to take an orientation.
What is the Bike Dump?
- We are a community bicycle shop started in September 2005.
- Our mandate is to make cycling and cycling repair knowledge and practice as accessible as possible, especially to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.
- What this means is people can come in and fix their bike or build one up using our tools, with help from our mechanics. We are first & foremost a teaching space, be sure to emphasize that we will not fix shop patron's bikes for them.
- Because we don't want to exclude people who don't have a lot of money, almost everything in the shop is offered on a by donation basis. (more on this later...)
- Talk about the collective, how it is non-hierarchical, consensus - based, how they can join, and about the committees or various roles (ex; finances, tool replacement, volunteer coord, renos, triage). Encourage them to get involved in the collective if they can dedicate the time & effort. Explain that we'd like for everyone to feel like it's their shop, including collective members, volunteers, and people using the space.
- Our shop has a social justice bent. Mention projects like women & queers night, the Grassy Narrows bike project, IRCOM stuff, etc. We strive to be a safer space, free of violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, and, classism. If you want to display that kind of behaviour, you should find another bike shop to work at. If you experience behaviour that you don't feel comfortable or able to address with another person directly, please bring it up with the collective member you feel most comfortable with.
- We are also concerned about the possibility for gentrification in the neighbourhood we've set up in. Elaborate on this, if you like.
What this orientation is not
- This orientation is not to teach bicycle mechanics. If you're interested in that,
➔ we hold a workshop on a different bike repair topic every month;
➔ you can come by during open hours and follow a mechanic teaching someone else; or,
➔ you can try to work your way through things on your own on volunteer night (wednesdays) or on saturday work days
Greeter & volunteer systems
- Show people the wall shift whiteboard calendar, and explain how the volunteer coordination system works.
- Every day we're open (with the dead of winter being an exception) a greeter sits by the front door and talks to everyone who comes in.
- Explain the greeter responsibilities.
- No matter how you' re volunteering, be at your shift fifteen minutes before it starts. If you'll be late, make sure you've let the volunteer coordinator know and/or marked that on the calendar. If people are even fifteen minutes late, it really makes things stressful for the other volunteers.
- Beware! Your personal info will now be included on the volunteer contact list. Let the volunteer coordinator know what shifts you'll be available to fill at the beginning of the month by replying to their email inquiry. Otherwise you'll be getting a phone call.
- If you're a volunteer mechanic, introduce yourself to the greeter at the start of the shift and make to let them know you can help someone.
- The greeter should introduce you to people you' re helping
When helping people
- Ask the person if it's their first time to the shop. If it is, give them a tour like the one you're on right now (doesn't have to be as comprehensive), and give them an idea of what they can expect and is expected of them in the shop.
- Don't make anyone feel shitty about the bike they're riding - there are different types of bikes for different riders.
- We also do not repair people's bikes for them for money. Even if you'd like to take this on personally, please don't, because our experience has been bikes sitting in the back and people showing up looking for their bikes and them not being fixed, or us not even being able to find them, which makes our shop look like a bunch of idiots.
- Try to never be the one touching the tools. We are here to help people fix their own bikes, not fix the bikes for them
- If someone is not strong enough to remove some thing from their bike, encourage them to use a tool with better leverage or use a cheater extension (old piece of bike frame).
- Be especially conscious when working with people who are traditionally made to feel they are not meant to be working with tools, like women and children, to treat them with respect.
- If you need to demonstrate something, undo it afterwards and get the person to try it themself.
- If people try to make you fix their bike for you, for money or not, or to fix up a different bike for them, firmly and politely tell them that' s not what we do. You can suggest your favourite local bicycle shop to them.
- Never take a tool out of someone's hand. Ask them if you can use it.
- If someone has a problem with their bike that you don't know how to fix, you can try to find a free volunteer to show both of you how to do it. Or if there' s a volunteer helping someone else with some thing you know how to do, you could ask them to trade you people. Or you could consult one of the bike repair manuals we have around (in the top drawers of the green filing cabinets by the entrance). If all else fails, don't feel bad about saying we can' t help them.
- If you find a person is able to work on their own, and you feel comfortable taking on another person, and there's enough free space for someone else to work in the shop, let the greeter know you can take on another person. This doesn't mean you can ignore the first person! You always have to keep an eye on them. Tell them also that if they want to do anything in the build me up room, the in-progress room , if they want to buy parts, or if they want to use any of the tools that break commonly, they should come get you. Both of those topics are talked about a bit later. Let the second person that you take on know that they may have to wait for a bit if the first person you were helping has questions.
- You should never be responsible for more than three people at once, and even that is probably pushing it.
- Wear appropriate clothes & shoes when coming in to volunteer; expect to get dirty and dropping bikes on your sandals hurts real bad
- Show them the coffee machine; tell them they are always welcome to make coffee and eat the snacks on the table. Sometimes there is cream or milk in the bar fridge.
- Tell them to try to keep bikes out of the entrance area. People should lock outside or be working on their bikes.
- Tell them they're free to burn a CD or two to keep at the shop if they'd like, and that we can provide a couple blank ones. We get really sick of listening to the same CDs and CBC radio two.
- Colour coded tools & boards. Point out special yellow board.
- Note that not all the boards have exactly the same tools and you might have to borrow sometimes
- Point out the list of needed replacement tools & parts on the whiteboard.
- Pass on proper ways of using tools, and the idea that the right tool should be used for the job.
- Go over the proper use for the following tools that frequently break:
➔ Pumps - locking the pump head in place is different for different types of pumps
➔ Chainbreaker tools - line up that pin or you'll break the tool!
➔ Sun Tour freewheel remover - put an axel nut on over top of the freehweel tool to secure it and put it in the vice
➔ Adjustable wrenches - don't use 'em if an appropriately sized box wrench is available instead
➔ Removing a stem - don't loosen too much, you gotta tap the quill bolt with a hammer to dislodge it.
➔ Hammers - don't try and fix it with a hammer! There's probably a better tool.
➔ Vice grips - for stripped nuts only!
➔ Cone wrenches - are not regular wrenches. Use only on cones. They are thin & strip easily.
➔ Metal vs. Plastic brake levers
➔ Don't use cable cutters on bolts
- Make sure people don't misuse these.
- Put tools and parts away right away, don't wait until the end of the day, because it's really frustrating when all of the tools are off the board and on the tables and you can' t find anything.
The used parts section
- Point out where different parts are kept (wheels, small parts, bigger parts, forks, tubes, handlebars, etc.)
- People can use these parts on their bikes by donation. The sliding scale goes down to zero. We'd rather have parts & bikes on the road than sitting around due to lack of funds.
- If people don' t have their bikes with them and want to take a part away, then they have to make a donation of time or money. Suggest what you think is reasonable.
- Make sure to keep this area tidy, because it gets crazy really easily. Get people to clean up after themselves as they go, not all at the end.
- When searching, if you come across things you know are trash, get rid of them, don't throw it back in for someone else to find.
- Point out the metal recycling buckets at each stand and the big red metal recycling bin.
- Point out that the blue recyclables box is under the outside table (or wherever it's currently kept) and needs to get regularly emptied out in the big rolling blue bins next door.
- The donation box is on the front table. Use of tools, get ting help, and all used parts are provided by donation. You can encourage people to donate, but we would rather have someone riding our bikes than to have them sitting in our shop due to lack of funds. There is a list of "suggested" donation rates on the bathroom door and under the donation box but don't feel obligated to memorize it or anything. We can use volunteer labour more than money so encourage those who can't pay to help clean up at the end of the day or come back to volunteer some time.
The new parts section
- Point out this section, and the prices.
- We sell this stuff at cost, it's not negotiable.
- People can use used alternatives if they have no money.
- Put the money in the donation box at the front.
- If we're out of stuff, the to-buy list is right there.
- We also have new rear axles, extra housing ends, brake/gear cables, lube, pathces & glue and a few other new goodies in the back on the stairway shelf
- There are also locks for sale in the back stairwell at a cost of $15.
The build-me-up room
- This is where people go to get a bike to start building up from scratch.
- People should always be accompanied by you into this room.
- Help people pick a bike that's right for them:
➔ Explain the differences between road bikes, cruisers, mountain bikes, and bmx
➔ Sizing: stand-over height should leave 1 " clearance. There are more accurate methods if people really want to use those, but this does a good job. If you're building a frame with no wheels, throw some temporary wheels on it to size it first.
- Stripping parts off bikes in this room to go onto another bike is allowed, but strongly discouraged. People should have looked through all of the used parts first and not found anything that could work. People shouldn' t take stuff off these bikes just because they like it better than something else that would work fine.
- If you know that someone has already built two or more bikes in the last couple of months, or another volunteer lets you know this, tell the person that's fine, but they should start alternating building one bike for us to sell, then one bike for themselves.
- People who have already built more than one bicycle recently certainly shouldn't be taking bikes from this room that are already almost ready to be back on the road.
- Used frames are also by donation.
- Keep this area tidy as well.
- ALL bikes stored in the room should have the pedals removed, and stored on the bike.
The work-in-progress/For sale room
- This room holds three different kinds of bikes: shop bikes, for sale, and work in progress
- Shop patrons should always be accompanied by a volunteer in this room - often in the summer there is a chain across the entrance.
- Shop bikes
➔ These are bikes in decent condition we intend to sell
➔ They should have a white tag reading "shop bike" on them
➔ Feel free to finish building one of these for us on a volunteer night, or a really slow open day
➔ They should have blue tags, but only when completed
➔ You can show people these bikes, but if they want to buy one, get a collective member, since there is a special procedure for selling bikes. Don't just put the cash in the donation box.
➔ Blue tags need to safety checked and signed off on by a second person before they can be sold
➔ Should have yellow tags with name, number, and date
➔ Tell people if they don't come back for a month they will probably lose their bike
➔ Make sure they know to update the date if they're returning
➔ All bikes being built up should have a safety checklist stapled to them which is signed and filed in the back upon completion of the bike. This is for both liability reasons and to keep track of how many bikes individuals are building (explain the issue with chronic bike builders/sellers & the "build one for them, then one for us, then one for them" rule)
- It should be cleaned by someone at the end of every shift (show them the lottery tool)
- If there is no hand cleaner left, get a fresh one from the back. If there is none left in the back, add it to the buy list.
- Show them around, and show them where extra spokes are (in white cabinet top drawers and the sorted slots beside the stand) and the blue spoke measuring tools
- Show the dishing tool, drawer with extra spoke wrenches & tape measures
- Talk about the compressor, and how to turn it on/off, since it's in the area
- While we're at it, talk about the parts cleaner and the fact that we use don't varsol (aka mineral spirits or paint thinner) in the shop anymore cuz it makes people sick.
- Show people the stuff at the top of the stairs; toilet paper, soap, coffee, building tools....
- Show them where extra tools like 1/8" chain tool, bolt cutters, chain wear tool, etc. and replacement parts are.
- Show the wheels section they are always able to grab stuff from, but make sure they know it's labelled & sorted & should stay that way
- Show the bikes that they can build into shop bikes or make a deal with the collective to buy. Frames usually sell for $30 or $40
- Volunteers not on the collective should generally not be down here though
- People you are helping should never come down unless you're selling them a bike
That's about it. Don't forget to get their contact info and pass it on to the volunteer coordination committee! You can also ask them if they have any other skills they might be willing to help the Bike Dump with: graphic design, cooking/food prep, access to a car/truck/trailer, fund-raising skills, art, marketing, computer & website skills, etc.