Q: and A:
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Q: Can y’all fix my bike for me?
A: No! At the Yellow Bike Project, we don’t fix your bike for you—we show you how to fix it yourself!
Q: Do I need to contact anyone at YBP before showing up to use the shop or to volunteer?
A: No! Just show up, sign in on the computer, and talk to a shop coordinator to get started. The hours on the website are always up-to-date and are the best way to find out when we are open. You can work on your own bike during any Open Shop, and volunteers are welcome during both Open and Volunteer Shops. We are open during our Daytime Hours for sales and to accept donations only.
Shops do fill up quickly, so we encourage you to arrive as early as possible so that you don’t have to wait for a workstation. For more information on different ways you can utilize the shop, visit our Community Bike Shop page.
Q: Does it cost anything to use a workstand?
A: No! We don’t charge a fee for use of the shop. What we do ask is that you try to volunteer time equal to time spent using the shop for personal projects. YBP is a volunteer-powered organization, and the shop would not exist without volunteers. If you don’t have time to volunteer, donations are another means for giving back to the shop. If you have neither the time nor the means, don’t worry—getting people on bikes is what matters to us the most!
Q: Are Volunteer Shops the only time that you can volunteer?
A: No! You can volunteer at both our Open and Volunteer Shops. We always welcome volunteers.
Q: I don’t know anything about fixing bikes. Can I still volunteer?
A: Yes! Absolutely! Education is what we’re here for. Most of our volunteers know little or nothing about bicycle mechanics when they first arrive at the shop. Shop coordinators are on hand guide you and answer your questions. Shops often do get very busy, so you will need to exercise some patience from time to time, but there’s always someone there to help. We also have an excellent library of instructional manuals, several of which are geared towards the beginning mechanic.
Q: Is there anything else I can do besides fix bikes to help out?
A: Yes! YBP is volunteer-powered, and everything that makes it go is done by volunteers. This includes cleaning and organizing the shop, planning and promoting special events, coordinating community partnerships, answering emails, ordering tools, and creating this website. Sometimes our workstands are completely filled, but there’s always something you can do to help us out. Just stop in during any Open or Volunteer Shop and talk to a coordinator. If you have a particular skill or talent you’d like to offer, email us or visit one of our Collective Meetings.
Q: My organization is doing a Volunteer Day, and are interested in YBP. Can you accomodate a large group of volunteers?
A: While anyone’s welcome to volunteer at YBP during our Open and Volunteer Shops, it is helpful if large groups of volunteers contact us ahead of time. Since there are a limited number of coordinators on hand, this will give us an opportunity to prepare a task to suit the size, experience level, and time commitment of your group while continuing to meet the needs of other shop users. In some cases, we may also be able to arrange a special shop for your group. Email us to let us know when you’d like to help, how many volunteers you expect, and any other details you can provide.
Bikes, Parts, and Sales
Q: Does YBP have bikes for sale?
A: Yes! We offer refurbished, ready-to-ride used bicycles at affordable prices. Since all of our bikes are donated, exact sizes, styles, and prices vary, but we do our best to keep a good variety of inexpensive rides on the sale rack.
If you have more time than money on your hands, or if you’re interested in something customized to your tastes, check out our Earn-a-Bike program.
Q: Does YBP rent bikes?
A: No! We’ve experimented with rentals in the past, but have found it to be more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re visiting Austin for more than a few days, you may find that some of our sale bikes provide an affordable alternative to renting.
Q: I’m looking for a particular frame/part/accessory. Do you have it in stock?
A: We don’t know! Almost all of our inventory at YBP is donated, and parts come and go too quickly to keep a detailed list on hand. The good news is that we usually have plenty of bikes and LOTS of parts. Newer, fancier, and higher-end products usually won’t be found here, but if you’re looking for simpler, older, utilitarian stuff, come take a look around—we’ve probably got what you need.
Q: Does Yellow Bike have any new parts?
A: Yes! We have a small selection of basic parts and accessories, such as tires, tubes, patch kits, brake pads, cables, housing, locks, and lights. New parts and accessories are available at the standard retail prices you’ll find them for elsewhere. If you are looking for a larger selection, we encourage you to visit one of Austin’s many excellent commercial bike shops.
Q: I need to replace a part on my bike. How much will it cost?
A: How much would you like to pay? Aside from sale bikes and new parts, most of what you’ll find at YBP does not have a fixed price. Talk to a coordinator to determine a price. Our mission is to get you on your bike, so aside from the occasional nicer component, we offer prices that are much lower than what you’d need to pay for a new part.
Q: What forms of payment does YBP accept?
A: YBP currently accepts cash or checks only. We are not equipped to accept credit or debit cards at this time.
Q: Will you buy/trade this?
A: No! We never buy or trade bikes or parts, as this would create an impetus for people to bring stolen goods to the shop. Bike theft, like horse theft, is highly frowned upon here in the heart of Texas. YBP also doesn’t trade volunteer time for parts, outside of the Earn-a-Bike program.
Q: Do you except returns?
A: No! Most of what we sell is in used, as-is condition, and sales are final. That said, if something goes awry in a really unexpected way, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.
Q: When is the best time to browse your selection?
A: You’re welcome to come take a look any time we’re open, but as of October 2013, we encourage you to do your shopping during our Daytime Hours. This will help alleviate some of the burden on coordinators at our Open and Volunteer Shops and allow them more time to teach and assist shop users.
Donating Bikes and Parts
Q: I have a bike to donate but it’s old and rusty. Do you still want it?
A: Yes! We take bikes in any condition. A bike might look bad but fix up nicely, or might look like new but have a cracked frame. At YBP, we put bikes and parts to their best use, whether it means refurbishing them, stripping them down, or taking them to a recycler.
Q: I have a bike to donate, but can’t bring it to the shop. Can someone from YBP come pick it up?
A: No! Sorry! We do not have the resources to offer pick-up services at this time. Pick-up of larger donations (i.e. several bicycles) can sometimes be arranged—email us and we’ll see what we can do. We also organize bike drives when we find ourselves runnin’ low—keep an eye on our newsletter for one in your neighborhood.
Q: I’ve got a good bike that needs some work. What happens to it once it’s donated?
A: Great question! Most higher-quality adult bikes either become sale bikes or Earn-a-Bikes. On the way there, they act as educational tools—perhaps giving someone an opportunity to clean, repack, and adjust bearings or tweak a barrel adjuster for the very first time. Sale bikes create a steady, self-reliant revenue stream for YBP while getting bikes to folks who often can’t afford to buy new, and the Earn-a-Bike program requires a degree of dedication that leaves graduates with a real sense of pride and care for the bicycles they roll out on.
Other bikes are donated back to the community through Special Projects and Kids’ Programs. Once again, they act as instruments for learning while they’re being repaired for people with a lack of other transportation, youths in after-school programs, and families in need.
Q: My spare parts box is bursting at the seams. Can I drop off some of these Biopace rings?
A: Yes! Along with bikes, we accept donations of all manner of components, tools, and accessories. You can drop them off at the shop anytime that we’re open. YBP is a 501c(3) non-profit, and we’ll be happy to furnish you with a receipt for tax purposes.
Q: Does YBP ever do special shops for youth/scout groups/school clubs/extracurricular programs?
A: Yes! Special shops for youth groups can be arranged, although we can only do a special shop if there are adequate volunteer coordinators available to run the shop. Please email us or attend a Collective Meeting to state your proposal, and include as much detail as possible (e.g., age and number of kids, number of support staff/chaperones, goals and material requirements).
YBP takes pride in partnering with schools and community organizations to increase youth access to bikes and mechanical knowledge. For further information on previous youth programs and partnerships, visit our Kids’ Programs page.
Q: Are kids allowed in the shop during regular hours?
A: Yes! BUT. Youth are allowed in the shop, but are expected to act responsibly, be productive, and follow coordinator’s instructions. We do prefer that children under the age of 16 be accompanied by an adult, and require that kids fill out a special “youth ID” card with contact info for their parent or guardian. We offer a simplified Youth Earn-a-Bike program, and youngsters who are engaged and respectful are welcome in the shop. However, kids who are disrespectful towards the shop, coordinators, or other shop users will be asked to leave.
Q: What’s a Yellow Bike?
A: A Yellow Bike is a bike that’s free to ride but not to keep. It is painted yellow from tire to grip to saddle, and found unlocked on the street. You can hop on, pedal it wherever you like, and leave it behind for the next rider to find.
Q: Why don’t I ever see Yellow Bikes?
A: Truth be told, most of the Yellow Bikes that we released ended up being kept by individuals as a personal bike. Although this didn’t align with our stated purpose of releasing community bikes to ride but not to own, we realized that those willing to commandeer a clunky old Huffy hand-painted yellow were very much in need. If you look closely around town, you might still find Yellow Bikes that were repainted other colors to mask their identity. Our ultimate intent is to make bicycle transportation available to all, especially those in need, so seeing a “Gray Bike” in use still brings a smile to our faces.
Q: Isn’t building and releasing Yellow Bikes the main thing that YBP does?
A: No! We’ve been around since 1997, and didn’t take long to evolve into an organization that puts far more energy into education and empowerment—serving hundreds of people each month by teaching bike repair and providing access to tools at our community shops—and programs aimed at getting bikes to kids and adults in need. On top of that, the City of Austin is currently preparing to join metro areas around the world in rolling out an official bike share program. The radical idea that started YBP has found its way into the municipal mainstream! Every once in a while we might get tempted to pop open a can of yellow paint for old time’s sake, but releasing Yellow Bikes isn’t something we usually do anymore. People often volunteer with us for months before learning where YBP got its name!
Q: I work with a community group that’s hatched a brilliant plan, and all we need are some bikes. Can YBP help?
A: Yes! Or at least, there’s a high likelihood. YBP loves partnering with organizations to increase access to bicycles. You can send us your proposal via email or present it at our Collective Meeting. To get an idea of how we might be able to help out, visit our Special Projects page for a glimpse of some of work we’ve done in the past.
Q: I’m planning an event, and would like to have YBP table or give a presentation. Can you make it?
A: Maybe. We’re a volunteer-powered organization, and the time that our coordinators spend keeping the shop open and operational already represents a major commitment. If an event sounds like an especially good fit for us or catches our imagination, we can make it happen. However, we receive far more of these requests than we’re able to fulfill. Email us and we’ll see what we can do.
Q: Can I do court-ordered Community Service Restitution (CSR) hours at YBP?
A: Yes! You are welcome to fulfill CSR hours at our shop. Make sure to let a coordinator know that you’re doing CSR, and we’ll put you to work. You are responsible for making sure that we record the hours on your court-issued paperwork each time you visit the shop.
Q: Do CSR hours count towards earning a bike?
A: No! We require that you finish your court-ordered hours before beginning the Earn-a-Bike program, but you’re more than welcome to come back and earn a bike as a volunteer of your own volition.
Q: Can I do community service at YBP as required by my school or extracurricular group?
A: Yes! YBP is a volunteer-powered, 501c(3) non-profit community organization. As long as that meets the requirements of your class or program, you’re more than welcome to come volunteer with us.