Ten Speeds To Freedom

Never has Gisborne seen so many booties on bike seats – the cyclists’ renaissance is truly here. As reported in The Guardian, ‘Bicycles are the new toilet paper’. Sales are booming and shops are running low on stock. Because let’s face it: Walking sucks. It’s boring, you don’t go far and it takes an age to get anywhere.

For any reputable cyclist city one thing is a must: A community bike shed. The first space I went to was a Melbourne spot called The Bike Shed (not very creative with the name). They had old bikes ready to be repaired with helpful volunteers who’d not lift a spanner for the world… Instead, they would happily teach anyone how to fix a bike and had tools ready for willing hands. Bring in a bent wheel and you’d leave with it straight.

“Can you fix my bike for me?”

“No. We are not a bike shop and will not fix your bike for you. However, we will teach you to fix your bike.”

Taken from The Bike Shed’s FAQ page.

The reason it works is because of the overabundance of broken bikes. They’re everywhere, under the house, in the garage, on the roof and ready for repair. If you’re missing a pedal, you can replace it or give the remains to a bike shed and contribute to someone else’s two-wheeled Frankenstein transportation device.

This is not some wacky new idea, the country is bountiful with bike sheds. Auckland has Tumeke Cycle Space and Christchurch RAD Bikes. There’s a bike shed in nearly every corner of the globe and it is now time for an East Coast addition.

If you’re wondering where on earth to start, there’s a handy little how-to guide called How to Start a Bike Kitchen set up by folks in the urban cycling Mecca, Portland.

To make this work we need to get our cogs into gear: 

First, we need a space. As retail struggles and the popularity of ‘for lease’ signs boom, we need to repurpose our city-centre as a space for our community to share. We need to find a shop to share with like-minded souls, or simply populate one of the empty ones and fill it with tools, local tinkers and comfortable couches. 

Second, we need parts! Bikes gathering dust can be brought to the shed and put to good use. Dull and dead bikes can be torn apart, stripped of parts and stored for the next repair. Decent ones can be kept aside for new riders to build upon and to repair their bikes for cheap.

Finally, we need you. Community members with cognition of cycles, who prefer their hands dirty with grease, and who like to dabble in a chin wag and share a little bike knowledge. The East Coast is numerous in engineers, builders, sculptors and DIY-ers. If we feed you enough coffee and biscuits can we get this city cycling?!

We have a thriving mountain biking community, flatlands and plenty of know-how. We have the opportunity to build the future we want. We don’t need to ask for a better city, in the true DIY spirit, we need to do it ourselves.

If you’re interested in being a spoke in the wheel of our cycling revolution, get in touch. We need all the Gizzy locals we can get to donate old bikes, slurp a cup of coffee and help bring about the grand opening of Gisborne’s first community bike shed.

Get in touch via jackmarshallonline@gmail.com.

By Jack Marshall