March Council Meeting Minutes

Construction Junction Update:

(Update from Scott K) Getting a new door has been approved in writing. The door was previously damaged in a break-in. We are working on getting electrical work approved. Our previous electric work was deemed to be an extremely dangerous risk to Construction Junction. Any further building modifications without proper approval will result in FreeRide being evicted.  A new lease is being developed that will provide greater clarity in how we can modify the space with approval from CJ.  CJ’s insurance is going to look over our policy to make sure we have adequate coverage.

– Other safety concerns were brought up, to be considered and addressed by FR.

Bike Rack Update:
(Update from Scott K) Our previous idea of getting a wave design rack required over six months for approval from the City. Using a traditional U design or Three Rivers rack can be approved within a much shorter timeframe. Scott was to meet with the City of Pittsburgh on site to evaluate our plan, but the City did not show up for the appointment. Creative Reuse is also perusing approval for a bike rack and Scott K is working with them as well, kind of combining the applications. We are looking at getting three to five bike racks.

– The inside bike rack was discussed. FR’s foyer (behind the gate) is to be cleaned and dealing with that rack will be part of that process. Pierce J may take the lead on that bike rack.

Missing Earn-A-Bikes:

(Item from Angela U) People’s Earn-A-Bikes have been going missing. There seemed to be consensus on buying a cable and locking the EAB’s together. Jeremy D purchased the cables. Staffers will unlock the cable so people can work on their EAB. There were also discussions about the procedures for how long EAB’s can sit around without being worked on, but that was outside the scope of the agenda item. Ned S thought dealing with an additional lock would be a burden on the staff and was concerned some people may not be able to reach EAB’s stored on higher hooks. Scott S suggested staffers could help people take their bikes down in that case.

Project Management: 

(Item from Scott K) Scott K has added project management functionality to the WordPress site. He suggested we use it for keeping track of larger projects and for communicating about larger projects.

WordPress/Brownbear Calendar:

(Item from Scott K) We currently have two calendars. One is integrated into WordPress and the other is a standalone webpage. We seemed to reach consensus on trialing only using the WordPress calendar for the next month and hope to retire the Brownbear calendar by the next council meeting. Ned S had concerns about some staffers not being able to use the WordPress calendar. Scott K offered technical support by phone to any staffer who was having trouble with WordPress. Ned S suggested a generic username and password for shadows. Scott S said he would pursue it.


(Item from Scott K) We currently have FreeRide resources on Crabgrass, which is a wiki-style content management system, WordPress, and the previously mentioned Brownbear. Scott K initiated a discussion about the pros of the multiple systems we use and whether or not they could be combined. Will W and Tom A appreciate that the people who run Crabgrass have similar values to FreeRide and are security minded. Ned S pointed out that our WordPress does not have SSL at the moment. Scott K said he would fix that. (As of this writing, it is fixed.) Tom A and Will W also said that Crabgrass has greater functionality, but staffers don’t know how to use it. The idea was floated of a technology committee meeting/training session. To be looked into further.

Dodgeball at The Wheel Mill:

(Item from Angela U)The Wheel Mill hosts dodgeball games where bike shops play against each other. There was consensus on participating and inviting volunteers/shadows to join us. Angela U will look into it further.

Three Step Beatification Project:

(Item from Scott K) Scott K has proposed a three step project to beautify FR.

Step 1: The entryway/foyer looks like crap. Scott K wants to get rid of the barbed wire, get new black fencing, clean up and paint the scrap bins, remove anything lying around, put a recycling bin out there, get a nice sign to replace the chalk sandwich board, get rid of the tires and just generally organize the space. There was consensus on following through with step one.  Step 2: Paint the entrance, paint the inside of FR, paint the floor with paint with sand grip into it. Paint everything essentially. Step 3: Recruit local graffiti artists to paint bike themed artwork onto the walls.

Council Meeting Frequency/Council Purpose:

(Item from Angela U, other related thoughts added on) Angela suggested council meet bi-monthly so that council could get more done and have greater time to discuss things. There was consensus on the council members having however many meetings they wanted to agree to. The possibility of having committee meetings was discussed to take the load off of council meetings. Will W stressed the importance of empowering FR members to work on their own and that the council should not get into details, but rather focus on broader policy questions.

Staffer Respect:

This was not an agenda item, but came up during the previous agenda point. There was a call for respect to whoever is on the staffing calendar during open shop. I.E. if a staffer is on the calendar to run the shop, other FR staffers and council members should be deferential to the person on the calendar. (Pierce J’s opinion: If it’s not a life or death thing, don’t correct a staffer during open shop, address the issue later.) Pierce J’s plea: “Respect means allowing FR members to have different opinions and that that’s okay. We don’t need to agree on everything or be on the same page about every minute detail. Similarly, we don’t need to correct people working on their bike for every little thing. Part of learning is figuring it out on your own. As a general matter, when offering opinions or solutions to something someone else is doing, restraint is warranted a lot of the time. Offer suggestions when asked, and sparingly when they’re not.”  There was consensus for recognizing that the staffer on the calendar should be running the shop and generally not countermanded by other staffers/council.

Simplifying Bike Sheets:

(Item by Jeremy D) Jeremy proposed a simplified bike sheet. There was consensus on fleshing out the details and revisiting it later. Some thought the notes section was useful. There was also a discussion about our record keeping or lack thereof, but that discussion was outside the scope of the agenda item.

Bikes for Community:

(Item by Jeremy D) Jeremy D wants less bikes scraped and there to be a procedure in place to give bikes away without the normally required sweat equity. Scott K was worried about where to store the bikes, the process, and people taking advantage of the system. Will W was concerned that merely giving away bikes would not satisfy our mission of bicycle education. More details need to be worked out, to be revisited later.

Community Events:

(Item by Angela U) Venture Outdoors has a spring fest and would like our participation. Kiwanis has an upcoming event and would like our participation.

From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces:

(Item by Angela U) We want our space to be empowering. Angela U is going to pursue getting  anti-oppression training for FR. Scott K thought the training should be mandatory. Jeremy D thought there should be role-playing. There was consensus on Angela moving forward with this and coming back to council to get approval for spending on the training. I believe this is the article Angela mentioned: And some guidelines that might follow similar ideals:

BikeBike Detroit:

(Item by Angela U) BikeBike is coming up. They are in the planning stages and we could be involved. People can offer workshops. Wil W suggested an anti-oppression workshop. There was a little discussion on how FR could support members going, but that needs to be further fleshed out. The idea proposed was that volunteers would be provided compensation capped at the dollar equivalent of their volunteer hours.

Involve Mint:

(Item by Angela U) There is a project in the works of cooperative members being able to swap hours with external coops. So for example, we could go to the Big Idea and get a discount or something. Scott K wondered how we could keep track of hours. We are interested, but need more info.

Summer Hours:

Normal, summer/spring hours to return April. Volunteer night will also be returning. Ned S was concerned about staff load. (I forgot about volunteer nights, and am also worried about a 66% increase in staff load. –Pierce J)

Women and Queer Night:

There was concern about who would run this night with Angela’s upcoming absence. Possibilities were discussed and being researched.

Grant Writing 

Scott K briefly mentioned he was looking into grant writing. Ned S voiced concern about grant writing. This item wasn’t on the agenda, so wasn’t explored in any depth.

The next Council Meeting will be Wednesday, April 20th, 6pm, at FreeRide.