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Bicycle Church Handbook

From Bike Collectives Wiki

This booklet serves as a guide to the Bike Church's organizational structure and a record of procedural decisions. It is a working document and is kept up-to-date and available by the volunteer and membership coordinator.


The Bike Church provides the tools, shop space, and supervision for a diverse community to learn, share knowledge, and effectively repair bicycles at low cost. This promotes: safe bicycling, more bikes in use, reuse of materials destined for landfill, and learning opportunites via hands-on-work, classes and apprenticeships.

The Bicycle Church is a collective

Community collectives and co-ops are unique institutions. Due to the egalitarian (ideally) nature of the organizational structure, all of the collective members are not only responsible for running a community project, but also for sharing power, and communicating their needs in a constructive and cooperative manner. The collective is ultimately responsible for every aspect of the Bike Church.

For a concise explanation of Concensus process, visit Skip's web pages at:

Nonprofit Status: Through its affiliation with Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Transportation, The Bike Church receives nonprofit 501(c)(3) status as an educational and charitable organization. Our Federal ID: 31-174-8056


Bike Church Core meetings generally happen on a bi-weekly basis at the Hub at a regular time, determined by the meeting. Decisions are made by consensus process. Only core members have decision-making rights, but volunteers and interested parties are welcome to attend. The Bike Church may decided to bar individuals from the meeting process.

  • Quarterly Meetings occur on a quarterly basis (in January, April, July and October) at a time and place determined by the regular meeting. Generally, the meeting takes place at a location away from the Hub, accompanied by a Potluck dinner. The agenda is not limited to but contains:
    • Consensus upon current core membership list
    • Clerkship evaluations and assignment
    • Financial reports
    • Long-range visioning/planning
      • Core membership appreciation and evaluation?
    • Long-term scheduling
    • Other current pertinent agenda items
    • Schedule next Quarterly meetings.
    • Clear tabs with charges over $30.00


There are 3 levels of volunteer.

  • Core Volunteer/Core mechanics are responsible for a shift of 4 hours/week, and help to maintain the space. They are also welcome, and encouraged to take on a clerkship. Twice monthly meetings are manditory.

Priviledges: keys (access to the shop in off hours), getting parts at 10% over wholesale , cheap to free used parts (use discretion and don't be a hog), and the right to keep a running tab in the finance book. If using the hsop in off-hours, make sure it is clean and clear of projects at least 15 minutes before a shift or scheduled workshop/class.

  • Committed volunteers work at least 8 hours a month, either as an apprentice/aid to the core mechanics on a weekly basis, or by doing odd tasks from the chore list regularly. After volunteering consistently for one full month, they are entitled to the following privleges: New parts at 35% over Wholesale and cheap to free parts (@ the discretion of the shift mechanic), and membership privleges. The meeting may decide to offer keys to a long-term committed volunteer.

Access to the office and mechanics only areas is granted by the mechanic on duty, and should not be assumed.

  • Impromptu volunteers are people who ask if they can do some work for that day, usually as a trade for shop use/assistance, and necessary used parts (and occasionally a new tube). The volunteer is referred to a list of chores, and the value is determined by the mechanic.


There are various paid clerkships avaliable to help maintain and improve the Bike Church. Clerkships are paid at a rate of $10.00/hour and assigned to core mechanics at the Quarterly meeting. Hours are recorded in the finance binder and tallied on each mechanic's tab sheet. Payment is by check There is some amount of flexiblity in adding to another clerk's hours with your own labor, but generally it's best to talk with the clerk or meeting first.

Clerkships of greater than 5 hours allocated are generally filled by more than one person. Rotation of clerkship of clerkships (huh?) is highly encouraged every 6-12 months.

Finances and Bookkeeping (5 hours/week)

  • Pay Rent And Bills
  • Overlook and oversee financial Books Including advising ordering clerk and allocating funds for clerkships.
  • Supply outgoing paperwork (Brochures, Receipts, Mechanic's lists etc.)
  • Make deposits as needed (> $500 at the end of week)
  • Maintain Filing System for forms, receipts (and other detritus relating to the books), and form an annual report (i.e.: taxes).

Ordering (10 hours/week)

  • Keep ordering book, inform membership of ordering times special and planned. Maintain the clipboards.
  • Order appropriate parts and tools for shop use/inventory.
  • Confer with mechanics to determine what is needed. Fill mechanic's requests as soon as possible or reasonable
  • Place orders (usually 3 to 4 times per month min.)
  • Handle special orders: Call patrons when their item is out of stock or upon arrival, etc, maintain the special orders drawer.
  • Price and Stock parts according to overall 60% markup (tapering off as cost rises.) (50% markup and then 10% more for sales tax).

Cage/facilities/donations (10-15 hours/week)

  • Sort donations and look after functionality of bike church cage (freight container)
  • Represent volunteer and mechanic's interests for storing bikes, parts materials
  • Solicit and collect used parts from local shops
  • Sort used parts (delegate this to volunteers as well)
  • Manage out flow of metal and bike parts recycling at the Bike Church
  • Help direct volunteers toward parting, sorting, filing.
  • Reduce general clutter/mess. Clean.

Shop maintenance and stocking (5 hours/week)

  • Check/fill shop supplies (oil, grease, bearings, patches...)
  • Clean the benches, sort/put parts away
  • Stock parts donations into shop drawers

Office Clerk (5 hours/week)

  • Organize and generally maintain the office. (incoming mail, core member mailboxes (?)
  • Create filing system and maintain it-Communicate with others how to use the system and fight bureaucratic entropy
  • (preliminary list of tasks -- Please, your input)

Membership and Outreach (5 hours/week)

  • Organize meetings voice membership interest
  • Create and maintain membership list and communication
  • Organize and promote ongling class schedules.
  • Advertise events and opportunities at the bike church
  • Respond to interested volunteers
  • Reach out to other organizations and shops.

Tools and Workspace Clerk (5 hours/week)

  • Maintain condition and supply of tools and shop perishables
  • Repair/replace broken tools
  • Maintain and improve tool storage / organization
  • Provide for the edification of fellow mechanics through classes in proper tool use & maintenance.
  • Maintain a box of clearly labeled tools as the outdoor toolset: screw driver, y tools, cable cutter... This tool sset is exclusively for the stripping of bikes by volunteers outside.


Members are entitled use of shop facility and assistance from staff mechanic during open hours on a first-come first-serve basis. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone/suspend membership privleges. No one will be denied reasonable help for lack of funds.

Membership rates: (as of Jan. 1st, 2006)

  • Monthly membership: $20
  • Yearly membership: $50
  • Lifetime membership: $100
  • Drop-in fee: $5/hour
  • Volunteer exchanges are available for shop use, please see "impromptu volunteers"

Services for special needs or low-income patrons

In addition to our no-one turned away for lack of funds policy and our "generous attitudes," the Bicycle Church offers the following services, for qualifying individuals. This offer is limited to one bicycle per person per year. Check with mechanic to take advantage of our programs. All transactions are at the descretion of the mechanic.

  • Free-bicycles are available to youth under 18 years old IF we have an appropriate bicycle to give away. Check with mechanic for detailsMany times the bicycles available require additional labor and a safety check from the mechanic on duty. This work is to be done by the recipient of the bicycle with the assistance of and under the supervision of a bike church volunteer.
  • Volunteer exchange for bicycle Patrons with demonstrable need and a willingness to volunteer may work for a bicycle at $10/hour, up to $50, only one time per year. Bikes available are those under $50 (total value plus used parts). For volunteer tasks, refer to the jobs sheet up on the office. Record this transaction in the bike sales doc.
  • The Impromptu volunteers category allows people to come in and volunteer for a day, ususally as a trade for shop use/assistance, and necessary used parts (and occasionally a new tube). The volunteer is referred to a list of chores, and the value is determined by the core mechanic. (This is a privilege and not a right of our patrons, and whether or not to offer it is up to the mechanic on duty.) Volunteer exchanges can also be made for project bikes.

Special Events and Classes

  • Special events and classes are highly encouraged, and fall under the volunteer coordinator/outreach clerkship
  • Events should be first brought to the meeting and approved.
  • Post events on the 2-week dry-erase calendar at least one week in advance.
  • Events may be scheduled during off hours, in coordination with other scheduling issues.
  • Allow at least one hour after a shift or other event before the start of another.

Building and Selling Used Bikes

  • Volunteer bike-builders. A volunteer can build bikes for sale. However, the first bike is built without compensation to demonstrate competence. All bikes must be sponsored by a core mechanic and checked before sale. [If at least 8 hours a month are spent building bikes, they gain the privileges of a committed volunteer. All profit share payments from bikes sold are by check or payout through the register.
  • Core volunteers are encouraged to build up or tune up bikes to sell. Depending on the quality and price you aim for, it may not be necessary to overhaul all bearing assemblies, change cables, etc. However, every part of the bike must at least be checked and noted on the appropriate form. The price is up to you to decide, although it is good to discuss and agree on general pricing for bikes and sale. Make sure to record the wholesale cost of all new parts used. Once the bike has sold, the builder is entitled to one half of the profit (subtract the cost of new parts from the sale price, and you get half of what is left). All bikes sales must be recorded in the finance book, including the sale price, and Mechanic's profit share. Bikes for sale must be sold at the full price, unless it is sold by the mechanic who built it up.
  • Once a bike is sold, let the buyer know he or she can use the shop to make any adjustments to help size the bike to the body. Seats or other parts may also be exchanged for free. Similarly, if any problem arises within a week or two of the sale, the buyer is granted free shop time and exchange of necessary parts. People often want us to fix their problems, but except in rare cases this is not our policy. They are used bikes with old parts, sold at very cheap prices. Thus we are happy to let people use the shop to fix it themselves, but we have no responsibility for it once it is sold.

Storage Policies

  • All claimed bikes must be tagged, if possible with red and blue tags (red is for sale, blue is projects or personal storage). Untagged bikes may be considered "raw material" and sold. The left-hand side by the door of the cage should be reserved for bikes for sale.
  • Mechanics (Core Volunteer) may temporarily (and for a short amount of time) store their own bike and any projects, and on occasion a friend's bike. Of course, we have only so much space, so we should keep non-project bikes to a minimum. No long term bike parking/storage is available for personal bikes.
  • Core-mechanic projects: Mechanics may only claim 2 projects at a time. (in order to limit hoarding and excessive storage)
  • Members ( and only members) have the right to store a bikes they are working on in a cage for a week, which is renewable indefinitely, so long as they are consistently working on it, and the tag is renewed by a core mechanic weekly. To store a bike, one must tag it with name, phone number, date, and the signature of a core mechanic. To renew it, again it must be signed and dated by a core mechanic who can vouch that they have been working on it. (Storage rights are a great draw for people to buy memberships and keep them current)

Bike Rentals and Loaners

  • We do not currently rent bikes. We do allow core volunteers to loan out bikes by their own discretion, but no tagged bikes (i.e. for sale, or works-in-progress). Thus, we will only loan out "raw material", and get back "raw material".
  • The Burley trailer from the cage (currently being reworked by Steve martinez) is the community trailer adn available for short term loan.

Shop Policies/running the shop

Opening Procedure:

  • The shop should be cleared of projects and prepared for opening by quarter-'til the shift. Tools should be put away, parts and mechandize cleared from the bench and tops of cabinets.
  • Unlock and ready the cash register. Counting the till and entering it into the register at the beginning of the shift is highly recommended.
  • Check in with volunteers to collaborate on chores and helping patrons for the day.
  • If you are early, check the answering machine and respond to messages. Messages for otehrs hould simply be left on the machine. If it is a timely message, make an effort to contact the recipient.
  • Often folks are awaiting the shop's opening. Receive all of them first and assess their needs before diving in to any projects.

The Shift:

  • As for the Shift Mechanic: Please make an effort to organize and sort the parts floating around the shop throughout the shift, especially during slow times. Assign such tasks to volunteers: organizing, sorting, sweeping, stripping bikes, etc.
  • Remain aware of new arrivals at the shop. Greet everyone as they arrive, and inform them about the nature of the shop, membership, and drop-in fee if they don't already know. Refer new comers to the painted sign out front and any appropriate handouts. Find out their needs and give them an estimate of how soon they can expect assistance. (It is important to explain this ahead of time, for example, to avoid someone puttin gparts on their bike tand then telling you they didn't know they were going to have to pay for them, and can they do some work instead.)
  • Let newcomers know to ask for assistance before using unfamiliar tools. All threading/facing (cutting) tools as well as headset installation tools are under mechanics guidance only. Files must be checked out by the mechanic with instructions on proper use and cleaning. (The Bike Church should have a reference manual for tool use/care?)
  • Cost of Parts. New parts are priced at 60% over wholesale, with some flexibility (most store charge aobut 100% over wholesale) plus tax. The price of used parts is determined by the mechanic on duty, and is somewhat flexible depending on the situation. Typically, parts cost $3-$15, whether it happens to be a derailleur, shifter, crankset, pedals, old wheels, tires, etc. However, we charge more money for especially nice parts. Pricing frames is tough, but typically we sell them for $15-$50. People who build and sell bikes on their own may come to buy a lot of parts, but if they try to cherry pick all the the best parts, or take so many we don't have enough, that is not allowed; our primary functino is to serve people working on their own bikes our own patrons. All prices on new and used parts include sales tax.
  • IOUs: Our policy is that people should pay for their parts when they buy them, just as in any other shop. However, if the mechanic knows and trusts someone, he/she may allow for IOUs of less than $10. In this case, it must be recorded in the finance booke, with the signature of the core volunteer. After one week, if it has not been paid, it gets put on the tab of that volunteer. Any parts over $10 must either stay in the shop, or immediately be put on the mechanic's account.
  • New Members: there is a member book with sections for monthly and yearly members. Fill out appropriate information, as well as the membership cards in the desk (don't forget the wrench stamp). Monthly memberships may be extended to yearly memberships, so long as it is done before that month expires.
  • Ordering: Members may special order parts from the catalogue. We order from QBP once a week, and less frequently from Wilson. In the order book, find the page for current orders, and write down all relevant information. The cost is 50% over wholesale for members, 25% over for committed volunteers, & 10% for core volunteers and PedX members (w/ cap at $10.00). Typically the cost is paid upon delivery.
  • Sales and the Cash register: There are a number of specific procedures for using the cash register; for the most part, these are laid out on the register itself, and on the end of the day sheet. Here are a few useful procedures:
    • Parts sales to core mechanics when using a tab: Ring item into the register in the "mechanics parts" dept. Place the receipt in the drawer and then in the deposit envelop at the end of the day.
    • Bike Sales - Bicycle Sales are rung in to the register in two parts. The shop share is rung as used parts and the mechanics share as bike sale/mechanic split.
  • Donations: We accept donations during open hours only. The mechanic on duty shall use his/her discretion as to whether or not to accept bikes and equiptment on the basis of its condition, overall quality, and the shop's storage ability. We also don't want any department store bikes, except in rare cases when they are totally complete and functional, ad can be sold almost without any work at all. We do not accept metal to be recycled.
  • Trade/Parts Buying: We do not trad parts nor buy parts off the street from unfamiliar parties. This does not exclude the trading of parts for part on bikes purchased from BC.
  • Consignment etc...: We do not offer consignment sales. In general, all sales on Bike Church premises are for the sole benefit of the Bike Church, and personal/private bike parts sales is strongly discouraged.
  • We offer nonprofit receipts for folks who want to write off their donations. Record this transaction in the binder.
  • Folks wanting to reclaim alleged stolen bicycles: Bicycles/parts are not to be returned to anyone claming ownership unless: there is a conclusive evidence of ownership, or a core mechanic can corroborate with first hand knowledge.
  • Kids: Kids have special status at the bicycle church and are encouraged to learn and work on bicycles. At mechanic's discretion, used parts/bikes may be given to kids with an effort to provide them with safe, functional bicycles.
  • No Tools Outside! Well, currently we allow 1 (one) tool outside at a time. And only basic, inexpensive, durable tools at that.

Closing Procedure:

  • 30 min. prior to the closing time: Check in with each patron as to how they might reach a good stopping place in their project. This is important to avoiding imposing situations at closing. The Mechanic is not repsonsible for the successful completion of any one project. Do your best and communicate clearly what help you can provide.
  • 10 min. prior to the closing time: Ask taht all tools and parts be returned/paid for and work areas be cleaned up. Complete all business transactions at this time. Check in with all work stations to wrap things up.
  • 5 min. prior to closing time: Committed and impromptu voluteers should help sweep, clean the counter, replace all tools and parts, take out recycling and trash, put the stands in the cage.
  • Closing time: The core mechanic shall count the money, record info on the end of the day sheet (or the computer if it's working) setting aside $100.00 in small bills for the till Place the deposit in the safe (in an envelope w/name, date, amount).
  • Before you leave: Shut down the computer, lock all the doors and windows in the Shop, and lock the container.
  • Listen and respond to the answering machine message that you didn't get to before the shift.

How to get involved?

If you are interested in getting involved with the core collective of the Bike Church, a committed volunteership is the way to go. Volunteer regularly and express your interests (during a lull in the shift or off hours) to a core mechanic.

Currently, the skills-set required of a core mechanic is not well documented, and there are no concrete requirements. Patience with our patrons and potentially frustrating mechanical problems, an awareness of your own limits as a mechanic, developed listening and communication skills, a willingness to learn and a desire to teach are all assets at the Church. Talk with mechanics and clerks about what skills and knowledge you would like to gain as you work toward becoming a core member and running a shift. You may also express your interest to the meeting if you need guidance or assistance.

When you feel that you understand the collective structure and feel ready to be trusted with keys and potentially your own shift, find a mechanic willing to sponsor your nomination. With support from your sponsor, we request that you write a letter of intent to the meeting. At the following meeting, the group will discuss the nomination and make a decision. To create an atmosphere where all core members can express their concerns clearly and freely, we request that the applicants not be present for the decision making process.