The Bike Root was launched in Fall 2008 at the University of Calgary to support cyclists and to encourage cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation, both on campus and in the greater community. Among the resources provided, the Bike Root operated a fully equipped bike repair shop, a bike sharing program and hosted frequent clinics, workshops and community events.
The shop was immediately embraced by students, staff and community members.For two years, the shop operated out of a loading dock on campus and during this time grew into a valued service, with membership growing to nearly 600 people. To meet this growing demand, shop hours were extended from 10 to 30 hours per week and the Bike Root team grew to almost 3 dozen passionate volunteers.
During this period the Bike Root also launched a campus bike library, which included30 bikes for members to borrow free of charge. The service was used extensively by individuals interested in trying cycling out and also by international students who otherwise might find it difficult to source an inexpensive bike to purchase during their stay. Plans were underway to significantly expand the bike fleet.In August 2010, the loading dock in which the shop operated was unexpectedly scheduled to be reactivated for shipping and receiving. The decision came as a complete surprise to the Bike Root which had initially received the space with the understanding that the loading dock would remain inactive. Despite repeated attempts to secure an alternate space on campus, discussions with the University stalled, and at present the Bike Root is located at our shop in University Heights.
In the meantime, the Bike Root has stayed busy, running a bike lock-up service for the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Market, hosting a few repair clinics on campus and collaborating with other campus and city-wide groups in support of cycling and sustainability in our community. The Bike Root has also used this time to reformulate their mission, vision, bylaws and policies to ensure that when a new space is secured, the well-organized group can set up an effective shop in minimal time. Members remain eager to find a new space on campus to resume operations and continue building a community.
The Bike Root started as a simple student club (it was formerly known as the Campus Bike Initiative). As a club sanctioned by the Students’ Union, its serves mainly undergraduate students while allowing for one third of the membership to be graduate students, staff, faculty, and alumni members. The affiliation with the Student Union also provides the Bike Root with a number of club resources, such as event insurance, recruitment space at clubs week and a greater integration with the campus community.
In 2008, the Bike Root received initial funding from the Students’ Union Quality Money to help purchase the necessary tools and equipment to open a shop. The Students’ Union could only release the money to an entity with a more solid legal standing and more accountability than a mere student club. For this reason, and to provide the Bike Root with greater flexibility for funding access in the future, the Bike Root incorporated a not-for profit society under the Societies Act of the Province of Alberta.
Until now, the Bike Root has represented both the provincially registered nonprofit Campus Bicycle Society of Calgary, registered with the Alberta Government, and the SU sanctioned student club. Both entities have remained in good standing to the present day. All funds are monitored and held by the society, and shop insurance was subsequently purchased through March Canada Limited for shop operations. All on-campus events are represented by the club and all off campus collaborations are represented by the society. It has, however, become clear that operating two legal entities with two sets of bylaws and at times conflicting reporting requirements imposed by the SU and Alberta Registries does not make for a solid governance model and can hamper day-to-day operations. For this reason, the Bike Root has revised its club constitution and society bylaws, and the Student Union has accepted these bylaws as satisfying their club sanctioning requirements.
Once they are adopted at the 2011 AGM, the Bike Root will be one legal entity, a nonprofit society incorporated under the Societies Act and at the same time sanctioned as a SU student club with all the attendant privileges. The new Bylaws and Standing Rules can be found in in Appendices I and II.Membership to the Bike Root includes access to both the society and the club, with the Board operating both entities. All on campus events are represented by the club and all off campus collaborations are represented by the society.
Without a central location on campus, the Bike Root has found it difficult to continue to serve and grow the university cycling community, and as such student membership was limited to 100 students in the 2010-2011 academic year. However, as the Bike Root entered its fourth year, there was greater community involvement with emerging cycling groups such as CivicCamp, Good Life Community Bike Shop, Elbow Valley Cycle Club, Sustainable Alberta Association/Commuter Challenge, CPAC and Bike Calgary . The Bike Root continues to support and cooperate with groups that promote cycling, sustainability and community.