By Athena Thompson
During the Corona virus there has been a strong demand for bikes and the Inner West Community Bike Hub has a steady stream of work on the go.
Donated second hand bikes are fixed and given a new life to either sell or pass on to refugees and others in need in the Saturday Bike Shed program. As the Bike Hub is a not for profit, the proceeds from bike sales and servicing then go towards running the program.
Whilst the program has taken a short sabbatical during the restrictions, the volunteers have returned to the Saturday and Monday sessions. We stopped past on Saturday to meet some of the crew, Joe who works there and runs the volunteer program gave us a bit of a tour.
On arrival, there is a quiet buzz of people around either fixing bikes or looking to buy one, or even get one serviced. As you enter there are nicely organised benches in the middle. At each corner of the bench, perfectly placed to enjoy more than 1.5m space from each other, is a stand to hold up the bike. It makes it really easy to repair. Plastic gloves and santiser all part of the tool set. Inside the container, is also a super neat set up. There is a professional workbench, draws stocked with parts and a specially made sliding rack to hang and store bikes.
Joe introduces us to a few of the volunteers as he shows them how to do the work. We first meet Duman Nurgali – a high achieving year 9 student from Cairnlee, he proudly tells us he is originally from Kazakhstan. He couldn’t afford a bike, but somewhat of creative thinker, noticed some on the side of the road in his area. They looked like they were being disposed. He then tracked down where these bikes would go, turns out, they make their way to the Brimbank Council’s Resource Recovery Centre. They then send the bikes on to the Bike Hub. Duman explains, “I wanted a bike so I could ride to school, because I’ll get fresh air. Plus it’s sustainable and more cost effective way to travel.” This was his first session at the Bike Hub and hopes to return next week. He connects with another volunteer Bisrat and they happily tinker away giving each other help.
We next meet Ivan, a software development engineer, where finding the place was a lucky coincidence. Thanks to good old ‘rona and with not being allowed to eat in a restaurant, he had taken to eat his meal on the grass just outside the Footscray Arts Centre. As he soaked in his surrounds, he noticed the Bike Hub. He tells us, “It was perfect, as I had recently bought a bike and didn’t know how to maintain it. I saw this is as the perfect opportunity to learn more”. He is enjoying his second session, and hopes to keep coming back.
Joe tells us that they are always looking for donations of new bikes and new people to come down to help and hang out. Of course, there are a few safety protocols in place. Like social distancing and a limit of 3 volunteers on the premises. Volunteers are provided their own set of tools to use, gloves and hand sanitiser. The volunteer sessions run from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and 5:30pm to 8:30pm on Mondays. If you would like to get feel for the place they will be running an induction Monday night 13th of July at 5.30 for half an hour. So if your keen to learn some basic skills with bike maintenance or just make new friends get in contact with Joe by email – firstname.lastname@example.org or through the facebook page, facebook.com/communitybikehub.
Professional problem solver by day (business consultant at TechLever) and supreme question asker by night, exploring Melbourne’s west one curiosity at a time. Co-founder of the Inner West Women’s Hub, a group for women who live, work & play locally.