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New Zealand

The Free Ride project is a new attempt at recycling

Lower Hutt’s innovative project removes cycling barriers by providing free used bikes to those in need.

Through free membership based in Naemae, locals can receive bikes, access to tools, bike mechanic classes, bike safety classes and safety gear. By the end of 2022, over 150 refurbished bikes have been distributed.

A new cycleway adjacent to the Hutt Valley Railroad Main Line through Naemae has inspired a project called Freeride.

Project leader Lily Chalmers was working at a Hutt City Council youth facility called the Seedlings Clubhouse when she learned that the Hutted City Council was planning to build a Beltway Cycleway along the tracks.

“But people here in Naenae, especially Rangatahi, realized they couldn’t use this multi-million dollar infrastructure because there are no bike shops in Naenae and bikes are expensive.

“So I started Bike Box, a program where youth and volunteer mentors work together to fix bikes,” says Lily.

Lily Chalmers with a donated bike waiting to be repaired or used for parts.Free Ride can do even more with these bikes if additional volunteers are found

Started as a cycle sharing trial

Free Ride started as a pilot bike-sharing project on Bike Box and has since grown into a member-driven project that provides cycling access not just to young people, but to the entire community.

By the end of 2022, there will be over 220 members and the project has donated 150 bicycles in two years.

Getting a bike from us or accessing our services is free. All you have to do is become a member. As part of our membership survey, we ask what people are interested in, such as free bikes, free access to tools, bike mechanic classes, bike safety classes, and safety equipment.

“This gives us information to decide where to put our energy. We had 50 people wanting to learn mechanic skills, so we opened a community bike workshop,” says Lily. .

too expensive for a large family

According to Lily, many local families have multiple children and buying a bike for each is prohibitive.

She thinks it would be ideal if the project would provide bicycles for children and their parents so that the whole family could go cycling together.

I learned that kids have better adventures when their parents have bikes too. ”

So what is behind the increasing popularity of bicycles?

Lilly believes it’s a combination of economic reasons, opportunities for physical activity, and an increase in bike lanes and cycleways.

People in my community have turned to bicycles as a mode of transportation due to the cost of fuel. But many of our members aspire to be healthy and fit, and see biking as a low-impact way to achieve that. ”

The Beltway Cycleway runs from Waterloo Station to Titer Rock, a popular swimming spot on the Hutt River. The cycleway runs along the Hutt Valley railway line and was jointly funded by Hutt City Council and Waka Kotahi.

“It’s a great little cycleway off the road, very safe and accessible. Working in Hutt City is great for cyclists,” says Lily.

The advantage of Free Ride is more open access to cycling and being part of a community of cyclists.

“By joining a freeride, you will get a free bike and necessary safety equipment, have that bike repaired for free, and access workshops and programs, including a pedal-ready riding program for adults and children, as well as group rides. You can, you are the trail.

Busy bicycle workshop

Lily says the response to the new bike workshops, which are regularly held at the Naemae Shopping Center rental property, has been overwhelming.

“We already have some regular volunteers and a lot of people stop by to help out with repair work or ask for advice and help with their bikes. Our workshops are buzzing, people drop by and they’re starting to become real community hubs.

People can stop by on our workshop days. Very informal at this stage. If you have a bike that needs help, our volunteers will explain it and explain the tools.

“If you already have some skills, please help me fix it so that I can give you free rides for free. I’m learning to take it apart and take the parts apart, which is fun.

“For 2023 we hope to have a more formal session on changing tires and changing brakes.”

Various people came to the workshop on Saturday, and many elderly people were riding bicycles.

“It’s nice to be able to remember the old bikes, and we also have special ‘show only’ bikes for people to see in the workshop. ”

The project always needs more volunteers. They need people with bike maintenance skills and people who just take old bikes apart for spare parts.

Lily said the project is “well supported” by Naenae and the wider community of groups such as Team Naenae and Naenae Village Market.

“We have tremendous support from our funders, the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Hutt City Council. Thanks to our wonderful landlords Charles and Felicia Chun for keeping the workshop off the ground.”

The Free Ride fundraiser raised $1,200 from supporters. I also receive koha from people who repair bicycles.

A $50 donation is paid for one mechanic’s hour. $30 buys a helmet, $25 tires and $12 inner tubes.

Free Ride hopes to receive continued funding from Hutt City Council and other funders so that we can continue to grow and expand our program.

We would like to train many new bike mechanics to build community capacity and safety.

“ Ekerua Rebicycle recently received a large grant from Waka Kotahi to launch a rent-and-buy e-bike scheme. We will continue to strongly advocate for cycling, so the future of cycling and equity looks bright,” says Lilly.

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For more information:

free ride website

https://dailyencourager.co.nz/free-ride-project-a-new-take-on-recycling/ The Free Ride project is a new attempt at recycling

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