The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Saskatoon’s Bridge City Bicycle Co-op is making the old new again

By in Culture
Bikes sit chained to the bikestand in front of the U of S Physics building on Sept. 7, 2019. | Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor

If you are considering buying a bicycle, you might have noticed that the price tag can range anywhere from $300 to $900. Considering that the same chunk of change can go to tuition or rent, you might be wondering if there are other options.

For seven years, the Bridge City Bicycle Co-op has been getting Saskatoon to cycle in the most affordable way possible — some of their bikes cost around $20.

With the help of volunteers, the organization opens their shop up two days a week to upcycle bike parts and maintain bikes. Stan Yu is a long-standing board member of BCBC, who became a member in its first year.

“[BCBC has] already come a long way. Last year through our programming, we had about 500 bicycles that came through our shop back into the community to be reused in some way, shape or form,” Yu said.

BCBC had humble beginnings with just one toolbox at the farmer’s market and a mandate to provide people access to a bicycle and educate them on how to repair it. They then received a call from Core Neighbourhood Youth Co-op in Riversdale, a group that had a bike program that needed some love.

Since then, the co-op has grown exponentially — last year they had 650 BCBC members. Because they are a co-operative, anyone can become a member by either paying an annual price or volunteering. 

“What we can offer is a very affordable used bicycle — at a fraction of the price for a new one — that will work, whether it is that you know when you’re studying, you want to bike during the summer months or during the year, winter biking as well,” Yu said.

The organization wants cycling to be accessible to all. Yu says that cycling culture is quite male-dominated so they made an effort to diversify it. 

“These two female volunteers took it upon themselves to say, ‘What if we carved out a night specifically for women… that’s led by women, trans and femme volunteers for women, trans and femme members.’ And yeah, they’ve been doing this by semi-monthly, every month for three years now,” Yu said.

For international students, the bike co-op has flexible options regardless of whether they want to work on bikes in their shop or buy and return when their stay is over.

“It just creates a different, more affordable option for students on campus. Especially since knowing that depending on where you live actually cycling to campus is very convenient,” Yu said. 

While reflecting on his time with BCBC, Yu says that one of the most rewarding things about the organization is how people help one another.

“A Syrian youth that started volunteering with us, and he was helping an Indigenous senior … [who] was saying… ‘I can’t fix this one part on the bike,’ and the Syrian youth just raised his hands like ‘I know,’” Yu said. “They just started working together. And in spite of language barriers, they’re sharing wrenches.”

After finishing their New To You Used Bike Sale, the bike co-op is now gearing up for winter biking and able to help people get started if they are interested. 

“We definitely encourage folks to come on down and ask any questions that they have about winter biking, as well as check out some of these winter frames,” Yu said. “For folks that want to try it for the very first time … you can have a winter bike to give it a try and see if you like it or not.”

Nykole King/ Editor-in-Chief

Photo: Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor

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