What's it like to work at LBK?
From the outside, we probably seem like a bunch of nice people, politically and socially aware, who love cycling. But from the inside? Well, it's still all that, but like a duck's webbed feet, underneath we are churning through the water of an industry that would rather you replace everything brand new, while maintaining the status quo of structural racism/sexism/ageism/ableism/
We're hiring at the mo, so I thought it would be a good time to introduce how we work internally, and what makes us different from a historically "typical" bike shop.
First up, we're women led. There's myself (Jenni) who does the teaching and admin, Claire and Amy are our mechanics / instructors, and Nigel is our bookkeeper/mechanic/instructor hybrid (a unicorn, really).
Secondly, while we're not an official cooperative, we operate using cooperative principles and ideas - we have weekly team meetings where the chair / minute taker positions rotate. These meetings are paid because we believe that people should be compensated for their time, energy, and expertise. (The veering of society into a volunteer based economy widens the gap between the rich and the poor, but that is another subject for another day.) We are all paid the same hourly wage (£11/hour) and we will be moving to a PAYE structure by 2022. We generally use consensus decision making in our meetings - at the moment myself and Nigel are the two official directors, but we run the place more like benevolent dictators.
Thirdly, we're into trying new things. Our mission statement is to get more people cycling through education, empowerment, and fun. Anything that might fall under this umbrella, we're willing to discuss and hash out a plan of action. We believe that learning basic maintenance is key to keeping people on the road, confidently and safely. And we also believe that this confidence has a knock on effect into other areas, like mental health, economics, physical fitness, and the environment.
Through a grant we received last year through Power to Change's CCLORS, we are training Claire to become a Bike Fitter, and we will be introducing the "Baggy Bike Fit" in the next couple months, alongside the reopening of our Saddle Library. And I helped found the Women of Colour Cycling Collective, which became a national charity last year.
In the past we ran our Women and Gender-variant (WAG) nights twice a month, and we also had an open DIY workshop where people could drop in and work on their bikes with mechanic supervision. Both of these are permanently on hold due to social distancing challenges (my boyfriend's brother is a microbiologist that studies infectious diseases - he's the editor of the Lancet Microbe - and he says "hands/face/space" is still operative and key to staying healthy.) But we are looking to bring back teaching via 2:1 classes and the saddle library, and currently I teach live online fix-a-longs with Hex Club (there are 2 spots available - email me if you'd like to join: email@example.com).
We don't do just one job each. We're not just mechanics, we also write course curricula, do data entry, take out the trash, and redesign our workspace. Whatever comes up that needs doing, we do. If we can't do it, we either learn it or hire someone who does.
We understand that everything is connected and that the personal is political. And also, it's important to have a sense of humour.
The Front of House position is a new one that we're experimenting with. Because we had to shut the DIY workshop (and lose half our income), we are fixing bikes for people to stay afloat. What we found was that it's hard to focus on work when the door's a knockin'. So we need someone to help manage the front end of things.
In the back end, we need a Shift Mechanic - a tried & tested position. It doesn't come up often, but when it does, we're searching for that special someone that's not just a great mechanic but also a great fit for the fam.