A story about the origins of the Kensington Community Bike Workshop
This is a story that began in 2019.
Saturday, October 8 saw the launch of the first Kensington Community Bike Workshop. The workshop is a community-run not-for-profit supervised workshop space where local residents can come to fix their bikes and use the tools and materials of the facility. At the time of writing this article the first workshop had not been run.
It is a pilot project that received a Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund small grant to the value of $4990.91 exc. GST from the City of Melbourne in November 2019. Due to COVID and trying to find a suitable location for it has taken some time to get it up and running.
A bit of history
The bike workshop facility was originally going to be set up in a container at the Kensington Estate, however with the change of CEO at Unison Housing they cancelled their agreement with the bike workshop due to concerns about vandalism. Kensington Neighbourhood House then stepped in as our auspice party and the bike workshop then sought to set up the container at the Kensington Town Hall.
With the help of our local Neighbourhood Partner from City of Melbourne, Melanie Del Monaco, who negotiated with the six different departments within the council, we were able to get a licence for the container to be set up behind the Kensington Town Hall. However, with the extension of COVID and various lockdowns across the globe this impacted on the availability of small containers and hence the price became too much for our grant funds.
We then sought to utilise some space in one of the Venny containers that we could open up onto JJ Holland Park. However, due to existing storage concerns the Venny Inc. already had, this was not an option.
We did not give up – through gentle prompting and support of the City of Melbourne we continued our search. It was important that the space was easily accessible to all and was a place of high traffic, as we did not have a budget for promotion. A number of potential venues were considered, we even sought to try and bring a small trailer into JJ Holland Park.
Finally, we sought the help of our community, and the Flemington Colts Cricket Club came to our rescue allowing us to share the space with them during the time they were allocated the use of the Bill Vanina Pavilion. They have also provided some storage space for our tools, materials and signage during this time. The workshop will be run outside under the awning of the Pavilion, however, if it rains, we will move inside as we do not require much space and have floor protection tarps.
The one consistent supporter has been our resident bike repairer, Rod; no matter what disappointments we faced, his commitment was unwavering. Rod has been working on bikes since he was a young boy, but more intensively for the past eight years.
Rod is passionate about bike repair as he believes cycling gets cars off the road and is a good activity for families and general fitness.
When asked how many bikes he has repaired he replied, “it would have to be at least a thousand. I have also built at least 3000 Kmart/BigW bikes of all sizes.”
Rod has also been a repairer at the Kensington Repair Hub for the past four years and sees the most common problems as poor maintenance, especially of the chain, gears and brakes.
We are aiming through the workshop to teach and share skills on bike maintenance as Rod believes that bikes will last almost indefinitely provided they are maintained properly.
Not only that but with a little bit of maintenance it will make riding easier and more pleasurable.
If the pilot is successful and our community wants this facility to continue, we will seek a small membership fee of $5 to $10 per year to help us maintain a stock of tools and materials for users to access. We will also look at how to continue using the Bill Vanina Pavilion.
We are hoping that it is successful that more repairers join us, and we keep bikes safe and affordable for all in our community. •