Belgium has a split linguistic dimension that outsiders find hard to understand. It is muted in Brussels, where both French and Dutch (Flemish) are spoken as first languages. What I had not bargained for was that this extends to bike workshop networks. The l’Heureux Cyclage network is well known as the big francophone network in Europe, with an annual coming-together that Bernardita went to in 2015. Now I discover that Wallonia (the French bit of Belgium) has its own l’Heureux Cyclage.be, which does not involve any workshops in Brussels or in the Flemish speaking part! The Flemish equivalent is not http://www.fietsenwerk.be so I wonder what it is?
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These are having an effect – the fence in the first one got removed!
This site is to collect together emerging research and information on community bicycle workshops. In a workshop, you get to fix your own bike, there is a stack of secondhand and donated parts to help you, and some volunteers to assist. Workshops have diverse origins including community development networks supporting social justice, anarchists and anti-car movements, bike enthusiasts, and others. They exist in many countries, and have grown since the 1990s in many towns and cities in the US, Canada, Mexico, Southern Africa, right across Europe, Australasia, and beyond. We (the authors of this site, see About tab) became interested when we realised almost nobody had catalogued the rise of these workshops and their contribution to ‘community economies’ .
Currently (early 2015) Simon Batterbury, a geographer at the University of Melbourne, Australia, is on a Fellowship at the Brussels Centre for Urban Studies to explore workshops in Germany, Belgium and France.
In the words of the French l’heureux cyclage network: “Un atelier vélo participatif et solidaire concentre dans un lieu des vélos, des pièces détachées, des outils et des animateurs qui donnent des conseils aux cyclistes”. Simple.
Any comments? See About tab.