Currently visiting workshops in Europe

Simon was on the road in Feb 2020, visiting workshops, with some kind funding from the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute. Working to putting together a comprehensive study of best practices and aims of bike workshops by 2021. Accompanied by Mildred Locke and Matthias Kowasch.

  • Bike Kitchen Lund, Sweden   Kitchen was closed when I was in town, have contacted for interview
  • Le Chat Perché, Lyon France 11 Feb 2020. Welding, tallbikes, but no actual cat.
  • Change de Chaine, Vaise, Lyon France 12 Feb 2020   [prix libre – no fixed prices for membership or parts. over 800 members. ]
  • Le Cyclub, Villeurbanne, Lyon France 13 Feb 2020. 650 members. One is a cat.

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    Le Cyclub, Villeurbanne

  • Unis Bike, Villeurbanne, Lyon 13 Feb 2020 [training social enterprise to re-enter employment, s/h bike sales, has NGO support-Unis is right across the road. We went to the open day, it was opened in 2020]
  • Etablicyclette Lyon, 13 Feb 2020. Met Guillaume, who also told us about the rise and eventual closure of Le Recycleur where he used to work, which was pretty much the oldest workshop in France and which lost a battle to keep its premises (1994-2017). He duns this hybrid enterprise that also does commercial fixing.
  • uN p’Tit véLo dAnS La Tête Grenoble  [one of the very oldest, and biggest] 16 Feb  Merci Yannick. Membership has dropped at this well known and established workshop,  mostly because the city has introduced over 8,000 city bikes in recent years, available on long term lease to individuals. The first time we heard of ateliers affected by good bike policies (they had to let go their paid staff).
  • Heureux Cyclage , Grenoble 15 Feb  [national association for workshops that have bike self-repair/autoreparation]. Merci  Celine & Mattieu
  • Café Vélo Grenoble. OK so really were were there for lunch, but we did ask some questions. Nice cafe linked to a small workshop that fixes people’s bikes and sells,  but does not do autoreparation sessions [too small].
    heureux cyclage
    Heureux Cyclage office, Grenoble
  • L’atelier solidaire, Grenoble 15 Feb.   This one is under reorganisation and has bikes as one method for social development in the quartier.  We received a great welcome. They have a dog not a cat.
  • Vieux Biclou Montpellier, 18 Feb.  Montpellier has some strong bike politics, but little action from the mayor in recent years on infrastructure. People are annoyed. Lobbying by this two-workshop association and other organisations is helping.
  • À Bicyclette Tulle, 19 Feb. Laurent is the founder and only employee, and has large storage area and a small workshop in a poor part of town. Tulle has one cycle lane. Merci Laurent
  • Vélorution Périgourdine, Périgueux 21 Feb. Relatively young workshop and activist group in a non-university, relatively compact town that could have far more cycle facilities around its cute pedestrian zone. Amazingly, the association operated from a free, three storey house donated by the city council. Merci Bertrand et al.
  • Récup’R, Bordeaux. 22 feb.  One of the established workshops. Has a sewin
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    Récup’R, Bordeaux

    g/recycling arm on first floor. Building destined for demolition along with the whole quartier to createEuratlantique and its regeneration agenda.   Some of the fanzine  Chasse goupille comes from here.

 

 

 

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WeCycle, Melbourne

SB has been volunteering at WeCycle in Northcote, Melbourne since July 2019. It is a volunteer-run initiative enabled by small grants, Council support, and volunteer mechanics and fixers. Craig Jackson and Gayle Ilievski set it up in 2016. Donated bikes are re-homed to  refugees and asylum seekers referred by caseworkers from support agencies. Other bike find good homes too, through sales or donations and there is occasionally space for people to fix their bikes. WeCycle is one of a number of Melbourne bike workshops set up more recently than the original Bike Shed at CERES. WeCycle usually staffed 10-3 Saturdays in Batman Park off St George’s Road. http://www.wecycle-melbourne.com/

 

 

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Funding received 2019

Batterbury SPJ, D. Mateo-Babiano. 2019-20. Comparative evaluation of community bicycle workshops in Australia, France and UK: supporting  low carbon urban transport,  individual wellbeing, community economies, and cycling cultures. Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) Future Cities Seed Funding. AU$9,600.

This project aims to explore and compare the contribution of community bike workshops [CBWs , ‘bike kitchens’ or ateliers vélos,] in Europe and Australia to creating a cycling culture, and better wellbeing and transport outcomes in different city-regions. We will use the 3Is (i.e. ideas, interests and institutions) as a comparative evaluation framework to appraise urban community bike workshops as nodes of low carbon urban transport, as contributors to individual wellbeing, better and vibrant community economies, and shapers of cycling cultures.

  1. How do selected bike workshops create demand for urban cycling? How are they challenging mainstream mobilities through active  urban transportation ?
  2. What are the major motivations and governance arrangements of these community  workshops?  With what political and other alliances?
  3. Test the counterfactual:  are they simply offering a service to the poor and to bike enthusiasts, permitting them to save money and build/maintain a ride?
  4. Are workshops ‘prefiguring’ the low carbon future? As many workshops transition into having salaried employees and more secure premises, are there lessons for urban practice, community economies research, and transition theory?

Announcement https://sustainable.unimelb.edu.au/research/research-clusters/future-cities/research/seed-funding-projects-2019/comparative-evaluation-of-community-bicycle-workshops-in-australia,-france-and-uk-supporting-low-carbon-urban-transport,-individual-wellbeing,-community-economies,-and-cycling-cultures

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2017 study of workshops in France

A key source came out in 2017, based on a  French survey.

Meixner, E.  2017. Etude d’évaluation sur les services vélos – Enquête sur les ateliers d’autoréparation de vélos. ADEME [ADEME did one just on bike workshops. This is a key source.] https://www.heureux-cyclage.org/IMG/pdf/cahier_ateliers_autoreparation-services_velos_ademe-2017.pdf

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Workshops in Quebec

http://www.velo.qc.ca/transport-actif/ABC-du-transport-actif-/Ateliers-communautaires

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List of workshops in California

https://calbike.org/bicycling-in-california/community_bike_shops/ch

we visited three in March April 2016, all in San Francisco.

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MP3 of radio interview on community bike workshops, 17 Aug. 2015.

Simon talks about community bike workshop at 3CR radio, 17 Aug 2015

http://www.3cr.org.au/yarrabug/episode-201508171000/community-bike-workshops-their-contribution-justice-sustainable-urban

And a talk on 18th Aug 2015

https://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/5600-community-bike-workshops-their-contribution-to-justice-sustainable-urban-transport

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Two Berlin workshops

A constant complaint in Brussels volunteer workshops is the lack of stable premises to operate. I even helped one of them ‘move house’ last month. Last weekend in Berlin I managed to visit two workshops, and found both had stable premises. The ADFC Werkstatt, Berlin-Mitte, is situated in the ADFC Berlin headquarters. ADFC is the everyday cyclists organisation, with about 150,000 members. They offer insurance to members, publish guides and maps, etc. The workshop was given its space at the back of the building for free, along with financial assistance to buy tools and stands, and has a moderate range of opening hours. The front has  a bookshop and a few bike parts for sale too. The workshop has pretty much every tool on hand except welding gear. The volunteer we talked to has been working there 13 years, and the workshop is older than that. Non-members of ADFC are welcome and they just take donations and the costs of parts from them. The workshop can afford this because they do not have major outgoings. Arriving on Friday, it was busy. Bike security engraving was also going on. It was nice to see some older, expert mechanics at work.

A second workshop was the Fahrradwerkstatt in the Regenbogenfabrik, in hipster-alternative Kreuzberg (photo on right). This is a legalised former squat, run as a collective, with several activities in the buildings including a cinema, restaurant, and woodworking studio. You pay at least E3 a session plus parts, and as at ADFC, often have to work on your bike outside when it is crowded. The space is stable (gone are the days of housing battles with the police in the 1980s), and the precise nature of labour (volunteer or paid) I am still not sure about, since they were really busy when I was there. They have bike hire and some other paying activities.

Berlin was extremely interesting. Good road treatments for bikes (but certainly not everywhere, and some lanes are pretty ropey), decent junctions designs, masses of bikes around (unlike Brussels, modal share has reached over 10%). Nobody wears a helmet and the city is moderately flat. Different bike hire possibilities at shops, and also citybikes. I am sure it is grimmer in winter!  There are other workshops, but weekend hours are very limited so I could not visit – maybe this is just not a tradition there, to be open at weekends. One workshop I really wanted to interview, Bike Aid Berlin offering bikes just to refugees and people without papers, closed its doors semi-permanently before I could get there, following a vigorous debate about its identity politics and mission.

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Pang – Vélorution

Brussels hipsters Pang (2014). There are some workshop guys in here.

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Preface to new Brussels bike workshop study

Inès has finished her thesis on Brussels workshops. Here is my preface. If you want to read the rest (in French), contact her on our About page.

Batterbury, SPJ. 2015. Preface. In  Vandermeersch, Inès. 2015. Évaluation de l’impact social d’une initiative citoyenne: le cas des ateliers collectifs de vélos à Bruxelles. (Evaluation of the social impact of a community initiative: the case of collective bike workshops in Brussels). Master en Ingénierie et Action sociales. Haute École de Namur-Liège-Luxembourg/Haute École Louvain en Hainaut, l’Institut Cardijn, Belgium.

Brussels is a remarkable city in many ways, but its roads and parking spaces have been congested for decades, with pro-car planning, and extensive vehicle leasing schemes. This compact city has suffered major mobility problems, and recently bicycles have had a second wind in planning circles as offering a significant alternative. The city has supported an extensive Citybike scheme (the Villo), infrastructure improvements, and many education campaigns. But some initiatives have emerged from Bruxellois themselves. The organisations discussed in this pioneering study by Inès Vandermeersch are the city’s community bicycle workshops/ateliers collectifs de vélo.  She examines their social impact, in terms of creating social cohesion, supporting local development, and whether they act as change agents in the context of the city mobility ‘crisis’.  Ateliers vélos  have no financial interest in cycling promotion, have limited opening hours, and are usually staffed by volunteers.  They are teaching and promoting vélonomie; the ability to ride and maintain a bicycle as a personal mode of transport. Of course, this has benefits for a healthier lifestyle and a less congested city, but for Inès these are subsidiary issues to their social impacts. Working in 13 workshops, she finds they are staffed by cycling enthusiasts and community development practitioners. They, and the clients and their bikes, are all ‘participants’ in the unique social field of the workshop.  Local youth, in particular, attend workshops as much for socialising as for bike repairs. As one organiser says, “c’est un tout petit village au milieu d’une ville”.

Inès builds on her own expertise in workshop organising, and as a mechanic. Her thesis details a resilient urban response to the city’s transport crisis, that creates positive cohesion across social groups, without much support or advertising, and with a precarity of premises and staffing. But Brussels ateliers are certainly not isolated;  the movement is global with 200 in France alone, and thousands worldwide from Argentina to Finland and from Australia to Alaska. The city has joined a ‘do it yourself’ response to community cohesion and to mobility problems. This deserves our support as bike riders and as researchers, and Inès has written an excellent first account of it. Vive l’atelier!

Simon Batterbury

Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, School of Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia.   https://bikeworkshopsresearch.wordpress.com

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