These days there are a number of reasons to consider alternative modes of transportation. With gas prices soaring to new heights, and air pollution escalating to disastorous levels, it may be wise to consider the economic and environmentally friendly bicycle as away to get around. Affordable, convenient, enviro-friendly and good for general health, the bicycle is looking more and more like a smart choice for city dwellers on the move.
Right to Move (RTM) is a co-operative bike shop located on the Concordia campus that operates Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., and can help anyone with an interest in cycling the city. Volunteers working at the shop will offer advice and skillful aid to beginners and experienced cyclists alike. Their primary mandate is to de-mystify the bicycle for anyone who may be unsure of the workings of their own bike.
Right to Move won’t offer a better deal on parts than any other bike shop in town, but they set themselves apart in terms of customer service. Volunteers at RTM take the time to show cyclists how to fix their own bicycles, helping clients become acquainted with the mechanics and inner-workings of the bike. While some people use a popped tire, or a broken gear as an excuse to ban their bike to a dark corner of the garage; others may want to stop by Right to Move and find out just how simple many bicycle repairs can be.
Many of the shop’s volunteers are Concordia students, but people involved in RTM come from all over the city. Some are bike couriers who can offer particular knowledge and experience in the bicycle world; others are bike “buffs” who have picked up skills and basic know-how from many years of cycling. On any given evening the shop is staffed by two to three volunteers on hand to assist you with the maintenence and upkeep of your bike.
The services are free (though donations won’t be turned down) and a $20 membership fee will give you access to RTM throughout the year. Work stations are set up and, although the space is small, about eight to ten people can pile in with bikes, and get to work. Tools are provided and parts are available to purchase.
Right to Move took off in 1998 when a proper mandate and constitution was set up for the co-op. With some initial donations of tools from the Mountain Equipment Co-op and a space offered by Concordia, they were able to get open for business.
Right to Move services both Concordia students and the community at large. They have a regular clientele eager to learn about their bikes and how to keep them rolling. With steady growth over the past seven years, Right to Move has managed to generate liquid capital and now functions as a regular shop.
A bicycle recycling program is also available at Right to Move, and they will usually have a number of used bikes on hand that are available for purchase.
Some RTM volunteers have strong views, whether political or environmental, about cycling in the city. Others just want to see people move. The general feeling at Right to Move is that cycling should not only be an solution for those without the financial resources to choose another way to get around. The bicycle offers a number of benefits aside from affordability, and RTM would like more people to recognize it as a sustainable mode of transportation in the city. Some people assume cycling is a seasonal activity, but RTM volunteers will tell you this is not necessarily the case.
Workshops are offered once a year to teach cyclists the ins and outs of winter cycling. Like any other winter sport, it is important to dress appropriately and take certain precautions, but it is entirely possible to ride your bicycle throughout the colder months of the year. Tips to keep warm and safe while you brave the great outdoors include:
No cotton directly in contact with your skin – It is important to have very breathable material as the first layer closest to your skin. You will be sweating as you ride, and you’ll need to have a passage of air so that sweat doesn’t freeze into ice close to your skin.
Layers are good, but don’t overdo it – It is a good idea to pile on sweaters and fleece but make sure you aren’t too warm before you set out. If you feel comfortable outside when you haven’t even started pedaling, you’re wearing too much clothing and you’ll be overheated in no time. Because you’ll be starting and stopping throughout the day, it is important to wear the right amount of clothing to maintain a somewhat regular body temperature the entire time.
Memorize road conditions when you can – It is a good idea to take note of the details when you’re out in winter conditions. Remember the feel of the road when the temperature hits a particular low, that way you’ll know what to expect next time you head out in sub-zero weather. A good winter cyclists will learn to predict patterns of ice, snow and slush so as to move around the city streets with ease and grace against the winter odds.
Be smart, be careful – Wearing a helmet should be a given no matter what the season, but during the winter it is necessary to take further precautions when riding your bike. Take into account the various obstacles Mother Nature will be laying in your path and don’t go too fast on slippery streets. Factor in driving conditions and keep an eye out for cars moving in irregular patterns and at varying speeds. Make adjustments in your own speed to accomodate the ice and slush on the road.
As Concordia moves ahead with development and landscaping projects for the downtown campus, Right to Move hopes they won’t be forgotten. They would like to continue working out of the tiny space provided by the University and hope to be included in future plans for the downtown area.
If you already have a wealth of cycling knowledge, Right to Move is always looking for skilled volunteers to help it run smoothly and keep the wheels spinning.
Right to Move is located directly behind Reggie’s, in the parking lot off of Mackay St.
They’re open from 6-9pm Mon.-Fri. You can reach them at
(514) 999-4885 or