Here’s where I give a proper idea of what this is all about.
It started in February 2016 when Andy Dimarco of Sustrans worked with Southampton City Council to establish a community bicycle workshop. Andy had spent time in Bristol and Reading. He was impressed by their vibrant community-led bicycle support groups and thought a similar effort could give Southampton a bicycle-boost so he set up the Bike Kitchen.
Anyway, one year later and the Southampton Bike Kitchen is well-established, Andy has moved to Canada and I am in charge looking to move things along, hence this website and Twitter activity.
Why “Bike Kitchen”?
This isn’t just a funky name we came up with – there are bike kitchens across the world. Ok, across the English-speaking world e.g. UK, USA, Australia. What’s the equivalent in other languages? Leave a comment if you know of “bike kitchens” in exotic locations. Anyway it generally means a volunteer-run community bicycle workshop. I’ve already said Reading was an inspiration so I’ll let the Reading Bicycle Kitchen define it for us:
“A bicycle kitchen is a community bike project that provides a space where cyclists can get access to workstands and good quality tools, along with experienced mechanics to help them do everything on their bike from simple maintenance to a complete rebuild.”
So hopefully you’ve grasped the concept. Why might you come to see us?
- If your bike needs any kind of check-up – e.g. to make sure it’s safe, it’s been stored a while or because you just bought it and you want to ensure no hidden nasties.
- If your bike needs general maintenance/running repairs/tidying – maybe you want help fixing a puncture, adjusting brakes/gears, oiling the chain, etc.
- If your bike needs major surgery – we can help you replace gears, chain, brakes, wheels, service the bearings, advise on what parts to order, etc.
Or maybe you don’t have a bike yet and you want to get advice, for example…
- What kind of bike will suit your purposes.
- Buying secondhand.
- Getting started with commuting.
Why are we doing this? We believe the bicycle is a force for good. Not in a cult-ish, trying-to-brainwash-everyone kind of way but in a genuine way. There’s plenty of evidence showing that bicycle use brings improvements to health, wellbeing, community cohesion, the environment, the economy and so on and so on… Figures from 2016 show that in the UK 21% of journeys under 1 mile were made by car. Bicycles accounted for 2% of journeys under 1 mile… Does that make sense? Yes, it’s easy to argue that cars are useful when carrying people or shopping, for those with reduced mobility and I’m sure you can think of many other examples but… cars for 21% of journeys under 1 mile – really?!
Anyway, there are plenty of others who can do cycle advocacy better than me. I am just a normal person who has commuted by bicycle for 5 years and I love it. I can’t imagine having it any other way. I want to help others experience the joy and convenience of bicycle use and together we can reap the benefits!