Old Bikes Given A New Life
For hundreds of Lockdown cyclists!!!
And Reading Bicycle Kitchen gets a new home
I’m hoping all RCC members have heard about, visited or even volunteered with this fantastic community facility; Reading Bicycle Kitchen (RBK) – who have helped repair, recycle and reuse hundreds of bikes during the challenging COVID Lockdowns, meaning lots more people across Reading have been able to take up or continue cycling.
As well as being a great asset in making cycling more open to all, RBK has a really positive environmental benefit – every bike journey helps save pollution and congestion and by repairing and refurbishing old bikes, recycling/reusing everything possible, reducing waste also keeps costs down!
The upsurge in cycling during 2020 has to be one of the highlights in an otherwise very difficult year and the massive demand for bikes and repairs was a perfect calling for all those at RBK. During the first period of Lockdown last spring, the hardy RBK volunteers weren’t able to offer the usual weekly pop ups for people to bring along bikes for repairs.
However, undaunted they continued working in garages, gardens and sheds around Reading, carrying out repairs to help people get their bikes road-worthy, also refurbishing donated bikes and supporting Avanti Cycling in loaning over 80 bikes to Key Workers including many NHS staff and community volunteers.
Once COVID restrictions were lifted, RBK was able to re-open by adapting its operations at the weekly Queen’s Arms Saturday pop ups. This involved working on customers’ bikes entirely outdoors (great during the July heat-wave but a gazebo needed for shelter in the August downpours!) with workstands spread out across the car park area and bollards/signage to ensure social distancing.
A booking system was introduced for people looking to buy bikes and our handy mechanics had to become experts with using online platforms as well as allen-keys and spanners!
Supported by additional funding via the Big Bike Revival programme run by Cycling UK, RBK has been able to keep costs to customers to a minimum and invest in replacement tools and consumable parts.
Unbelievably, our volunteers have managed to carry out over 200 repairs on bikes during this period – ranging from Trikes to Tandems, Mountain bikes to Bromptons – even seeing some fancy e-bikes needing a little TLC (as they can still get punctures!)
Through generous community donations RBK have restored, repaired and re-homed 150 bikes to new owners at a very low cost. Many of these being sold to local people taking up cycling for the first time, enthused by the quiet roads during lockdown, looking to increase their health, take part in family activities or avoid using public transport.
Suitable bikes are also donated for free to worthy causes, including to refugees and homeless people through linking with these charities, and a number of children’s bikes have gone to Berkshire Woman’s Aid for the children in the refuge.
The continued interest in cycling, with the massive demand for bike sales and repairs has been difficult to sustain in the small space and storage area available to RBK at Queen’s Arms.
We have been looking for a much larger and permanent facility for several years and have now found a new home in nearby Weldale Street. We had hoped to have moved in before the end of 2020, but subsequent Lockdowns have delayed proceedings but not daunted our enthusiasm!
We are now up and running in the new location Unit C10 Weldale Street, RG1 7BX – continuing to operate outside until restrictions are lifted. Sadly our grand opening will have to wait until later in the year, but there will be plenty more workstands, benches and floorspace, thus enabling indoor and outdoor working. Keep an eye on our website for more news!
Anyone keen to learn more or volunteer, even novices wanting to learn how to fix bikes, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reading Bicycle Kitchen is an entirely volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation founded to encourage cycling by making low-cost bicycle maintenance available to all.
The objective of Reading Bicycle Kitchen is to help people in the Reading area to keep their bikes safe and working well, so that they can enjoy all the benefits of cycling.
We are very fortunate to get a lot of bikes and related items given to us, and we ensure that we make the most of everything possible.
The majority of bikes are refurbished by our keen volunteers and then resold, at very reasonable prices, to local people. Nothing goes to waste; if a bike is beyond economic repair, we strip it of all the useful parts, which are then used as spares to fix customers’ bikes.
We are a ‘we help you fix it’ bicycle workshop. You supply the problematic bike, and we help you with the tools, tips and support you need to mend it. Maybe you have a puncture, need to adjust your brakes or gears, replace worn out parts, or upgrade with some shiny new bits?
We are very cost conscious, so we reuse, repair, and recycle whenever and whatever we can. Combined with an amazing array of tools, spare parts, expertise and enthusiasm for bikes it’s hard not to love RBK!!
RCC Events Coordinator