FFWD REW

Tit for tat wheel for wheel

New initiative hopes to revamp consignment

Discovering that the sparkling gem of a bike you thought you found after hours of sifting through classified ads is actually a rusty eyesore is a disheartening experience.

Thankfully Calgarians Laura and Chris Grant have created a safe and secure alternative to shop for a used bike dubbed the Calgary Bike Swap.

Unlike Craigslist or Kijiji whereby people can sell anything they want bikes will undergo a routine inspection by certified bike mechanics before being approved for the bike swap and must be worth at least $50.

The goal is to turn the swap scheduled for April 1 and 2 at the Bowness Sportsplex into an annual event and get as many Calgarians riding as possible — especially adults.

“It’s important that people price their bikes right” says Chris. “Yes you paid $300 for it five years ago and haven’t rode it but I’m sorry it’s not worth that now”

Laura came up with the idea while working as an educator at Alberta Health Services and it has now become a full-time undertaking for her.

“There’s really no place to buy a used bike. A lot of people upgrade people grow and change their needs and there’s just nothing out there” she says. “You have to physically see a bike.”

Chris says the swap provides a great alternative to online searching which often proves to be unreliable and time-consuming.

“The way we see it is it’s bringing all the online possibilities together in one place where you can see them all at once” he says. “You don’t have to go to a stranger’s house and you don’t have a stranger coming to your house.”

“We’re hoping what happens is that it gives people with a limited budget the opportunity to buy a good bike” says Chris. “It gets people who have that good bike an opportunity to get rid of it and upgrade. It’s going to work well for everyone in the cycling community.”

Any leftover bikes will be donated to Goodlife Bikes or Bikes for Kids making cycling more accessible to a wide range of people.

Laura says the swap event is being funded entirely out of pocket this year but she wants to create partnerships within the community and get bike shops involved in the future.

“If you try to get a bunch of cycling community partners to start with it would sit in a committee for years so as private citizens and concerned cyclists we’re taking it upon ourselves to launch it” says Chris.

“I don’t want to step on any toes with the bike shops either. I want them to know that I’m trying to move bikes out of the garages so people can afford to buy their dream bikes” Laura adds.

The swap likely won’t be everything to everyone at the start says Chris but he hopes this can be a year to see what works well and use it as a stepping-stone for future swaps to come.

To help recover some of the swap’s cost the duo implemented a racking cost for prospective sellers which is $10 for bikes valued between $50 and $250 and $15 for those over $250.

Even though the racking fee will not cover the costs of the swap they are not charging admission fees.

“It’s the best means of transportation” Laura says. “I’m the person cycling by people stuck in traffic and waving at them.”

Laura attributes her own cycling and fitness to being able to successfully battle multiple sclerosis for more than 30 years.

“We have this dependency on cars that we shouldn’t have. Calgary could be easily adapted to allow for more cycling” adds Chris.

Local biker Matthew Smith says he loves the idea of being able to swap bikes in person.

“You don’t know how many weirdos there are out there on the Internet trying to sell stuff” he laughs.

All kidding aside Smith hopes the initiative will prompt people to put down their car keys and pick up their bikes.

“I think this will help people who don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on a bike take that last step in getting one.”

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