Wednesday 13 November 2013

Melbourne bike fix, skill-sharing and bike-related social enterprises

Summary: As in most cycling cities, in Melbourne there are free or low-cost community-based bike sheds ("kitchens"), bike fix locations, bike tool libraries, skill-sharing or training opportunities, bike recycling/donation and other bike-related social enterprises. This post will collate and keep updated all current instances in Melbourne. These are a great way to become self-sufficient in bike maintenance, help others, make friends and contribute to your community.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Nicolás Boullosa

Related Posts:
How to use a local sharing site to save money, learn skills and connect with neighbours

1. CERES Bike Shed
- Located at CERES in East Brunswick. $10/year gets you access to the following most weekends of the year:
  • BikeShed members can use our tools on-site and get free training from our volunteer mechanics.
  • If you do not have a bicycle, we will happily help you to fix one of our recycled bicycles.
  • We have a range of recycled parts available to members at very low prices.
  • We have a small range of new brake pads, cables, and tyres for basic bikes.
2. Neighbourhood Bike toolkits, skill-share and fixing assistance (via Streetbank)
- On the neighbourhood sharing website Streetbank, search for bike or cycling and you can find any available bike toolkits, individual tools, skill-sharing or help fixing your bike. Expand your neighbourhood radius if nothing shows up (maximum is 16km).

- My complete bicycle tool repair kit is available within 16km of Fitzroy North. See: How to use a local sharing site to save money, learn skills and connect with neighbours

3. Cycling Meetup Groups
- Cycling meetup groups sometimes organise bike workshops and maintenance sessions for members for free or a small fee. Just search for "cycling" or "bike" in your city at For Melbourne's Meetup groups see: How to find cycling events, activities and friends
> Cycling for the Terrified Meetup group (~$40 workshop cost)

4. Free or cheap bike maintenance and skills training
- Occasionally, local governments will fund free or subsidised bike maintenance and skills training classes for people that live, work or study within the local government area. People from outside the area can often take up any spare spots left in the week before each session.

- The City of Darebin is currently running regular workshops. They cost $10 ($5 concession) and the current workshops are:
(a) DIY Bike Maintenance
(b) Commuting by Bike 101
(c) Back on the Bike

Darebin City Council Transport Management - Eventbrite

- Bikes at Work is a Melbourne-based business offering high-quality, accredited bicycle skills, safety and confidence training for individuals, community groups, councils and workplaces. It runs regular workshops and often these have a low cost. It currently runs a lot of the courses subsidised by local government.
Bikes at Work - Community Courses
> Bikes at Work Eventbrite calendar

- Some bike shops provide free or low-cost workshops for customers or you may have to pay a small fee to join their club. An example is 99 Bikes which has a fee of $5 to join its Club 99. This then provides access to free bike maintenance courses.
> 99 Bikes Eventbrite calendar

5. Footscray Community Bike Shed
- Collects donated bikes and fixes them up to give to asylum seekers and refugees. Initiative is run by Maribyrnong City Council and the Rotary Club of Footscray. This initiative will do more than just provide wheels to the needy, it will bring together organisations, community groups and individuals who will work to raise awareness about sustainable transport, bike maintenance and road safety and provide refugees with a place to feel connected in the community, share knowledge and make friends.

- The bike shed is at 1 Mills Close, Footscray and is open Saturdays 11am-3pm for bike fixing, drop offs and pickups. Also most Wednesdays 4-5pm for drop offs. Volunteers are asked to donate bike parts, a bike or just time to fix bikes.

Footscray Community Bike Shed

6. Charities collecting donated bikes to fix up and send overseas
- I'm not the biggest fan of such charities as: (a) It undermines local bike businesses and markets in these countries; (b) Suitable, locally-maintainable bikes are not difficult to acquire with $15-75 in any country you can ship a container to; (c) The bikes being sent are often not what people need (recreational mountain bikes not utility bikes) but the junk Westerners want to get rid of; (d) Freecycling underutilised, low value goods continues the pointless overproduction and overconsumption of these low value goods (people should stop buying crap mountain bikes that won't be used); (e) Spending over $10,000 plus hundreds of hours of volunteer effort to deliver a few hundred bikes overseas has a very low ROI and a significant opportunity cost. Donating the money to World Bicycle Relief would go much further.

- If you think recycling unused bikes and giving them to those who don't currently have them is worthwhile then it's far more effective to do it with a local community - disadvantaged communities, refugees, etc. You can then be involved in all of the other important things required to get usage and value out of these bikes (maintenance, road skills, equipping it for utility, etc) and refine the approach (including to the bikes) based on seeing what works.
> Give Now - Give Bikes
> Wait... What?: ‘Green bicycle’ or #SWEDOW?
> DC Rainmaker: Wanna buy a Kenyan bike?
In Zambia, Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl: Why is World Vision perpetuating discredited T-shirt aid?
Wheels of Africa
> World Bicycle Relief; > Buffalo Bicycle - Why Buffalo?

Bicycles for Humanity (Australasia)
- "Over the past 4 years we have collected, packed and shipped thousands of bikes to our partner BEN Namibia. These shipments have created and resupplied many highly successful Bicycle Empowerment Centres in Namibia and Zambia. As well as providing cheap sustainable transport for whole regions these workshops provide skills training, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the communities in which they are placed."
> Bicycles for Humanity - Melbourne Facebook page

Bikes 4 Life
- "Based in Melbourne, with workshops also in Brisbane and Sydney, Bikes 4 Life is a network of concerned citizens, organizations and companies, who are dedicated to supporting extremely marginalized and neglected individuals and communities by providing re-cycled bicycles as a mode of sustainable transport, a vital instrument for access to independence and livelihood." It's main project is fixing up donated bikes and shipping them to communities in Uganda, Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.

- You can donate bikes, help fix up bikes and volunteer in various other ways at the Melbourne workshop every Sunday and Wednesday at 26 Gwynne St, Cremorne between 12pm and 5pm. Tools are provided and there is no experience necessary (though it's useful).
Bikes 4 Life Facebook page

7. Occasional Park/Suburb Bike Fix Locations
- Sometimes your local inner-city park or public space will have a bike fix spot on some weekends. E.g. Carlton Gardens Bike Fix in Melbourne used to run regularly but is no longer active.

Further Info:
City of Darebin
Darebin City Council Transport Management - Eventbrite

Good Cycles
> Social Programs

Does sending second hand bikes to poor people overseas make sense?
> Aid Watchers: Why African women and girls are still manual porters
> Don’t Send Your Used Shoes to Africa. Or Maybe Do Send Them
Can the Buffalo change Africa's bicycle culture?
> Algoso: Hey, can we talk about opportunity costs for a second?