COMMUNITY | Bikes for everyone

Posted on 25/08/2013

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Image Source: Bikes 4 Life

John and I enjoy browsing second hand and charity shops and we’ve recently noticed an increase in the number of bikes available for sale. Usually this happens when an activity has become fashionable. Most items in these shops have not been tested to see if they are in good working order. With a kurbside clean up due in our suburb in the near future, we’ve also noticed that old bike frames and parts are among the household refuse destined for landfill or disposal. Even though cheaply manufactured and marketed bikes might not be as durable as better quality bikes, most bikes, we think, are repairable and reusable. Their lives and use can be extended with some care.

So John and I wondered what it would take to recycle bike parts and repair discarded bikes to give them away to low income families and communities to encourage active livestyles and active transport.  Having Googled, I have found one bike repair and gifting program in Australia – Bikes 4 Life which is sending container loads of bikes to Indigenous communities. There are also similar examples of ‘bike aid’ where bikes are provided to poor communities in developing countries. The New Zealand Green Bike Trust is another example. The Lions Club in Lilydale are also gifting bikes to kids who don’t have or can’t afford bikes (though I suspect giving bikes to whole families get the family out cycling).

I like the potential of this idea – it’s like our modest venture to raise seedlings to help flood affected residents re-establish gardens and food growing. Small initiatives that are about joining forces with others to use, redistribute and share resources wisely. Would people be prepared to come together to participate in a voluntary effort to make this into a small social enterprise? John’s initial thought was that it was something that Men’s Sheds could do and I also thought it could be done through and with schools, civic organisations and community centres where people in the community were trained to repair bikes. It might even be worth running some bike repair working bees in conjunction with Bikes 4 Life to send bikes to Queensland and the Torres Strait communities. Basic bike maintenance is easy – even I can do it – so it does seem like a good way of engaging people in repair and share practices.

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