Notes from december 2015 council meeting

Free Ride Council » Meetings agendas and Notes » 2015 december notes

Location: R.R. Donnelley, 218 N. Braddock Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15208
Time: 10:00am
Date: sun 20 dec ’15

These minutes reference email messages from Free Ride’s lists on RiseUp. If you’re already subscribed to a list, add a password so you can browse the archives.


Council: Gregg LaFace, Scott Kowalski, Ned Schmidgal (notes), Will Wedler; absent: Angela Urban
Note: Gregg and Angela hadn’t been added to the council email list; this was fixed during the meeting.

 Scott or Will still need to provide them with vanity addresses; who will train them about usage? 

Members: Jeremy D’Souza, Jeff Raymond
Guests: none

Schedule next council meetings in 2016

We’re sticking with the third week of the month, but shifting days to accommodate Angela’s availability.

  1. wed. 20 jan. at the Big Idea Bookstore in Bloomfield at (???) 6:00pm
     Scott to confirm location availability 
  2. tue. 16 feb. at the UU church in Shadyside
     Ned to confirm this one
  3. th. 17 mar. at the shop (hopefully it’s warm by then!)

We also discussed meeting at the Tech Shop in Bakery Square, but there’s a $200 fee. Gregg may organize a group of Free Riders for a free tour (he’s a member).

Volunteering review

  • We have quite a few staffers, yet filling the december calendar was touch-and-go
    • Perhaps multiple calendars confused folks (see Website topic)
      Scott will bottom-line filling shifts for january.
  • Jordan has been shadowing
  • Up-and-coming volunteers: Ana, Kate; Jewish folks (unsure of names) on mondays

Potential for Free Ride to expand next year

  • Gregg reminded us that biking is getting big in the city (e.g. new bike share), and suggested more marketing
  • We discussed a few ways to estimate activity:
    1. Volunteers subscribed to our general email list (2-300, but many inactive)
    2. Capacity during Open Shop
      • Ned: Shop sign-in records show max around 50/shift (but not all staffers are diligent with this)
      • Scott: We’ve been close to full bike stands multiple times this year
      • Will: We used to only have ten tool wraps; when there were no more to hand out, folks had to wait
    3. Programs run during the year
      • Adult classes were decent
      • No 3rd-party youth programs
        • Attempts at our own youth programming received no youth this winter (but some volunteers)
        • Will suggested events like Youth Nights give our shop users a good feeling
      • No Volunteer Repair Parties
  • Growth for its own sake might not be helpful
    • E.g. crowded Open Shop leading to volunteer burn-out
    • Scott reminded us:
       All shop users should understand we are volunteers. 
 Gregg is interested in working on a questionnaire for volunteers this spring. 

Electrical improvements in the shop

  • Gregg has purchased supplies and begun work, with Ned helping:
    • Light fixture by markerboard had busted capacitor; replaced with used fixture from CJ
    • Some outlets installed along counters below windows; waiting for grounding
    • An itemized bill for approximately $700 was presented for initial work.
  • Everyone was pleased with the progress, but there were some concerns with the process:
    • We approved Gregg’s inital proposal this summer
    • Then Jeff Gatto chimed in, confusing things
    • Last meeting’s minutes assigned Gregg to make Requests For Proposal to others
      • Not part of those minutes: Later that day, Scott talked to Bruce/CJ, who suggested we just move ahead with the improvements.
  • Ned located Gregg’s annoucement; unfortunately G. distributed it to our generic list, which affected others’ reading of it
 Proposal: Shall we pay Gregg's initial bill, and have him finish the job? (Gregg & Ned stand aside) Will & Scott: Approve; Result: PASS; Gregg will get the bill to Tom


Ned remarked that the state has informed us, we only need to remit sales tax quarterly again, instead of monthly (likely due to lack of Fix-For-Sale bikes).

Outdoor bike rack

  • Since last meeting, Scott hit a dead end with BikePgh. We’ll have to approach the City directly for a sidewalk permit.
  • QBP’s racks are much cheaper than Dero’s.
  • Some folks would still prefer to lock their bikes under shelter…
 APPROVED: Spend up to $1000 to acquire and install the longest rack we can fit between the sidewalk and the street, in front of our windows (rather than shared with The Space Upstairs). Deadline: spring opening.

Scott to lead, Will & Gregg want to help.

Ned interested in downsizing/improving existing, sheltered rack.


Discussion mostly limited to new event calendar (via Wordpress plugin), currently under testing:

  • Ned demo’ed it, with Scott’s help
  • Will suggested we push it into everyday use ASAP, if it’s working
  • Gregg wasn’t thrilled about usernames and passwords, would prefer one button to press (like current staff cal?)
  • Mike had similarly emailed a concern about new shadows having to learn extra steps
  • Scott pointed out, user tracking is a feature missing from the old staff cal
  • Ned would like to see how more limited users would manipulate the calendar, before switching everyone over.
     Scott will test this out further 

Make shop computers more accessible

Gregg reported the sign-in (Linux) machine has been difficult to operate

Signage in shop

  • Winter’s a great time for such projects
  • One example: policy against double-counting service hours

Heating & welding

  1. Jeff would like to get a propane heater, approximately $150, would use refillable cylinders
    • We’d have to make sure all staff know how to operate it
    • Would need to keep kids away from it, etc.
  2. Jeff & Scott are interested in bringing in 110V welding equipment for some personal projects, like tall bikes
    • Would not be used during public hours
    • This equipment would not be stored in shop
  • Ned had reviewed our current liability insurance policy: nothing seems to prohibit this

News from Will

Colleen is pregnant! (And there was much rejoicing.) So Will doesn’t plan to serve on council next term.

Topics tabled for future meetings

  • Youth
  • Charities
  • Bike lab (?)