Ottensheim, Austria, 26-31 July 2011

Report from Stevie T

Cyclocamp is a transnational festival for the cycling community. The 2011 festival was held in Austria, and Stevie T (one of our volunteers who now lives in Belgium) attended on behalf of the bike shed.

First of all, I need to say this was the first Cyclocamp, so the organisation was still working out the ground rules on how to organise and promote this event. This year's Cyclocamp had people come from a number of bike workshops from Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, England, Hungary and Croatia. Many of the workshops are recently established with the great majority of them being about 3 years old, most workshops identify themselves as bike kitchens (often offering free or on donation bike services/bikes and often also food).

Here is a quick summary of the different workshops:

Croatia - Zagreb bike repair workshop

●      Started in 2009, as a project which was funded by Friends of the Earth Croatia (an environmental NGO). Friends of the earth has provided funding for the project, provided a venue for the project and pays one person as a coordinator for the project. Project is however autonomous from the NGO and is run by volunteers.

●      Everything is provided for free in this workshop.

●      In addition to being open to the public on set days, Volunteers can access the workshop on their own time to work on their own projects (we should do this too)

●      The workshop is also a focal point for organising bike events on Zagreb:

â—‹      They organise bicycle riding skills workshops (participants range in age from 10-45)

â—‹      Bicycle touring skills workshops

â—‹      Bicycle spring festival (both seminars on cycling issues and rides)

â—‹      Bicycle activism (critical mass, fixing curbs)


Spain - Corunya Bike Kitchen

●      established 2008

●      open one day a week 6-10pm

●      located in a social center (social movement building) in a disadvantaged migrant community in spain

●      most people came to the bike workshop from a background in social center activism and critical mass

●      everything in the workshop is provided for free

●      often goes and does workshops at different locations in the city (using cargo bikes)

●      bikes and donation received from bike shops

●      sets a limit of 3 visitors per volunteer

●      also runs forums on mobility and sustainability

●      found that running bike mechanics courses was a  good way to get women involved, as the teaching process allowed women to access information and start doing things for themselves rather than having men do it for them in the workshop setting

 Hackney cycle repair workshop - London

●      started in 1992, as a project of the london cycling campaign

●      runs out of a Church hall

●      have no bikes and run repairs

●      also run the following projects:

â—‹      The Hackney bicycle film society (in campden)

â—‹      Bicycle music festival run on bike power made from reversing generator hubs (see photos)

Bike Kitchen Vienna

●      Thursdays 4-8pm

●      Runs out of a cellar in Vienna - 40sq m

●      pays rent which is covered by donations

●      has a bar which makes money and covers all workshop costs

●      open one day a month for women/lesbians/transgender people

●      the Lastenradkollectiv - runs as a side project which arrose out of the bike kitchen in Vienna. They are a cooperative which owns 6 cargo bikes leased out/given out to community groups/individuals and businesses.

 Bike Kitchen - Linz

●      Small two man bike kitchen that runs out of a wooden roma looking trailer in Linz (see photos)

●      has mobile days where they go to sites by cargo bike and set up workshops on the street

Red Lanterns - Berlin

●      wednesday 3-7pm

●      closed in winter because it is too damn cold

●      runs out of a trailer in feminist/queer trailer settlement in the outskirts of the city (schwarzer canal)

●      all run by donations

●      gender balance 8 women/2 men

●      no food but a soup kitchen runs directly afterwards by another group

●      they are two other workshops in berlin - one run by the cycling lobby

Bike Kitchen Budapest

L'heureux cyclage - France

 â—      federation of French bike recycle workshops

●      Grenoble has a large workshop with 2400 members (how many do we have?), workshops runs in 3 different locations and employs 6 people. Locations include a university.

Responses to questions from shed volunteers...

1. Handling large numbers of members in a limited space with limited numbers of volunteers (including ideas like queueing schemes)

Only the Spanish workshop discussed this and I think their proposed system of having 3 people per Volunteer would be great. We need something like that to reduce our stress levels in the Bike Shed. Each volunteer can take on three people, I think that’s a manageable number.

This can be done with Vignettes or Colored pegs or something – each volunteer has x pegs/objects, when they are no more pegs/objects we can no longer take anymore participants easy.

2. Getting, training, inducting, and keeping new volunteers
Not much was said about this, most people seem to train their volunteers internally. One did find that providing training did help increase female participation in workshop as it helped women to familiaruse themselves with tools. The formal training gave women confidence to work with tools by giving them hands on experience they otherwise may not have got due to men taking over from them.

3. Prolonging the life of tools

I only saw the workshop area of Linz and Vienna Bike Kitchens, here are some ideas I got from them:

·      Vienna bike kitchen separated bike specific tools from other tools, all bike tools are on one wall, all generic tools on the other (this gives a good degree of separation between cone spanners and spanners).

·      Secondly, in the bike specific tools, they attached the bike part relating to tools above the tools which relate to that part: a Bottom Bracket above the BB tools, Hub above the hub tools etc… Color schemes are also helpful to make those delineations

4. Re-using of bike parts and other materials to make tools and other things

Not much of this reuse was to remake tools, 

5. Organising parts and tools so that they are easy to locate

I really think we underestimate ourselves and our Level of Organisation - we are better organised and better Resourced than all of the Groups that were present

6. Links to local cycling culture

I think one of the interesting differences between their workshop and ours is that most workshops do a lot of other things as well. Many bike kitchens have food cooked onsite building the sense of community among the group (some people just come and cook whilst others do the mechanical work), some have pubs which help them fund their free/donation based systems. Also a lot of the workshops are directly linked in with social movements, they are based in social centers, environmental NGO quarters, churches even. They organise cycling education, run seminars, weld and have days when they open up just for volunteers, so that volunteers can work on their own projects.

All this contributes to a more connected interaction with other projects around.

Many bike kitchen also have a strong punk, DIY element that organise lots of fun things like tall bike jousting, welding tall bikes (I saw a film about how they took a broken Pinarello and a Broken Moser and Welded them together to make a tall bike), bike bundgy, bike ramps that jump into the Danube, etc. I don’t think we are that kinda of group necessarily, but doing that kind of stuff sustains and nurtures a group of volunteers. For us at the Bike Shed, it is like the bike shed becomes a kind of work place where we give our time. We often forget that we come there to have fun and enjoy ourselves as well. By doing stuff which is just fun, we sustain our volunteer base and make it more than just a workplace.

The Bike Shed is different because is very focused on being just bike repair workshops only. That’s partly because we come from a very diverse set of backgrounds and hence probably would organise other things very differently. Our common purpose lies in bike repair.

And OH&S in Victoria is also prohibitive to what we can do.

I do think we could get together and run seminars on some issues maybe, which would bring us closer to other parts of the bike community, maybe we could work in conjunction with other bike groups to run workshops on things and run it at Ceres in one of the room in the Van whatever building.

There is a lot of scope here. Both to make the bike shed less strictly a workplace and more of a place for the bike community.

Suggested workshops:

·      Workshops on Cycling Infrastructure

·      Workshops on Touring

·      Workshops on Compulsary Helmet Laws

·      Workshops on DIY Helmet lights

We all know people who do this stuff, so we can build all this into the bike shed.

We can even use our networks and members list to promote a whole load of bike related events, this would broaden our group’s objective from getting people unto bikes and teach people how to fix bikes and expose our membership base to a whole array of different bike related ideas.