Decreasing Our Epic Line-Ups to Create Better Bike Experiences
While cycle commuting home in December 2010 my husband and I were talking about bad experiences buying and selling bikes online. As an engineer Chris had been buying bikes from police auctions, repairing them, then selling them for the price of parts to help others. More than one buyer looked at everything else in our garage, except the bike, and we were robbed. I was keen to get into road riding so that I could guide MS tours, riding kept my neurons firing and my MS at bay, but I didn't feel safe while looking at a bike in an unfurnished basement. In the conversation while cycling I signalled right to turn right, and someone passed us on the right. Chris and I cycled home and ideated out a safe way to buy and sell bikes and fund safe cycling and Alberta Bike Swap was borne.
We kept adding ideas. One of our first volunteers worked for waste management in Edmonton and told us that over 600 bikes a week ended up in the landfill. So we added bike donations and partners that would take and repair the donations. We get over 600 bike donations every year, have over 70 strategic alliances and are a conduit to over a dozen groups for bike donations. We collect a $2.00 admission at our events and give that to the groups repairing these bikes.
CAN-Bike is the only recognized and standardized cycling education program in Canada and we fund safe cycling as an Instructor.
We tech check every bike and have maintained a chain of ownership by recording the serial number, make, and model since our first event. We put our first events on using paper, graduated to a POS system, then coded software based on our needs. As one of three women in computer science in the early 80s, I designed the only bike swap software in the world. The most relevant and real-time bike ownership registry is Bike Index. A coder came forward to code our software to cloud services after CBC did a show on our impact. Our software taps Bike Index’s open API to verify the bike owner and registers the buyer and that software doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Our bike swaps are famous for great deals on bikes and epic line-ups. For us to evolve and grow we have to update our software, server, and payment system. As the world becomes more bike friendly and visual, our idea is to apply the technology I mentored at SAIT to add a live-stream of bikes so people can see the deals. This requires software coding and server stabilization and purchase of Helcim smart terminals to reduce bottlenecks and line-ups
Who Will it Benefit?
Sellers benefit because we provide a safe place to sell their bike. We coach the sellers on the price to sell and have a 94% sell rate. Yes, there are fees, but Sellers know that these fees help society.
Buyers see the due diligence that we’ve put into ensuring the bike is safe, not stolen, and our 180 volunteers ensure that no one leaves on an ill-fitted bike. Every bike is tech checked and we stand by what we sell. We consistently have a 12% rejection rate, but also bring in a local community bike repair shop to fix minor issues. We have rejected bikes for cracked frames and glued on pedals, and have also seen every single bike that we have rejected for serious issues being posted online after our rejection.
We keep stolen bikes out of our event to the benefit of society, insurance, and law enforcement. We invite anyone with a stolen bike report to view the bikes to verify for themselves that their bike is not in our event. The police and RCMP recommend and attend our events because of our due diligence. We have helped insurance companies and the police retrieve bikes from pawn shops and online sales based on our processes and software. Though there is Canadian stolen bike database, the Federal Minister of Justice and head of the RCMP recommended Bike Index as real-time bike ownership and the software. I designed taps Bike Index to verify the bike owner status and registers the new owner.
Our 650+ bike donations go to help those in need, we also collect a $2.00 admission (if affordable) and give that money to these donees to repair the donated bikes. We always give handicapped societies first dibs on bike donations because they can retrofit only certain types of bikes. Youth programs get next dibs on bike donations, marginalized families, immigrant and refugee organizations, Bicycles for Humanity because transportation security is a world-wide issue, and the rest of the donations go to local non-profits to help fund their causes.
We also pledge $50 to anyone in a cycling cause if they bring in a bike to sell. We work with cancer, MS, medical research, and hospital foundations to help their causes.
Chris provides CAN-Bike education to hundreds of people annually across Western Canada. We also designed and gave away cycling education cards based on the Alberta Traffic Safety Act ,and teach bike safety through libraries, schools, and outdoor groups.
We give our patented bike racks to any group that wants to promote green transportation to/from their events.