The Bike Kitchen at UBC offers recipe repairs for walkers, wheelchairs and bicycles, yet for a long time their location has made such maintenance difficult. Conversations about Bike Kitchen accessibility reach back nearly a decade, when the shop could be found below the AMS bike pole, after a dozen stairs. “[For] a lot of older folks, people with mobility issues, we would have to run out, help them get their bike, get them down the stairs and also help them back up” calmly explains current Bike Kitchen Manager, Alex Alvarez, over a din of wrench clanks and spinning wheels. “We were originally slated to be in the nest… then as things progressed, we were told there was no room for us, so we would move into a ‘fancy building’”. The double-wide trailer sitting just south of Brock Hall is functional, but hardly fancy. While it provides enough space for sales and repairs it remains 20 feet from pavement and can be reached only by paths of sloping dirt or gravel, routes that form a small lake in wetter months. A wheelchair accessible ramp leads up to the entrance— a manual door of metal, set at 90 degrees, in a frame covered with scuff marks. “We would have [delivery] people just abandon their palates… and customers weren’t too stoked on the lake” says Alex. “[Accessibility] is something we’ve always wanted but never really had”.
But a plan for a permanent shop location in the basement of the Life building offers all members of the Bike Kitchen family a new opportunity. Design features include a smooth bike slope in the center of the stairs and wheelchair accessibility via pre-existing ramps on the north end of the building, as well as elevators. The new space sits directly opposite a wheelchair-dedicated washroom, with open double doors and a wide shop path. When asked about the blueprint Head of AMS Design Michael Kingsmill made it clear that there will be “no question about accessibility to the lower level whatsoever”. Building codes require the AMS to provide one means of access and egress, but as Michael says, “You can always do more”.
This sentiment rings true for the UBC campus as a whole, which ranges from state-of-the-art to archaic depending on which part you’re in. The new Bike Kitchen will provide those using assisted transportation with the option of local, immediate help, so while other spaces remain foot-traffic only, the all-inclusive bike shop may help accessibility initiatives to gain traction. The occupation date is set for July 18th, and Alex appears confident in his assertions that “the metal fabricators are en route, and the wheel is in motion”.
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