12 Apr 2024

The volunteers fixing up Christchurch's broken bicycles

From Nights, 10:17 pm on 12 April 2024
A whiteboard with a tally of the number of volunteers, people helped, parts and bikes rehomed during a open day at a RAD bikes recycling day.

In the decade since it was founded, RAD Bikes in Christchurch has recycled over fifty thousand bike parts and served nearly twenty thousand people, in what they say is unlocking the joy and freedom of cycling. Photo: Supplied by RAD Bikes

It's easy to junk something when it's broken, and just buy something new. 

But in the decade since it was founded, RAD Bikes has recycled over 50,000 bike parts and served nearly 20,000 people, in what they say is unlocking the joy and freedom of cycling.

RAD, which stands for Recycle a Dunger, was birthed after the Christchurch earthquakes and its coordinator Jess Smale told Nights there had been similar groups in Auckland and Wellington but nothing on a larger scale for urban residents in Christchurch.

So, what exactly do they do?

"It's a space where people can come in and fix bikes themselves or others. 

"So, people can come looking for a bike, they can come get help fixing their bike, they can come and find parts, and everyone just shares their skill and time," said Smale.

There was no lack of unwanted bikes in the city, said Smale.

Most of the time, the bikes they received were in one of two categories, she said.

Either they have been ridden and used till every part was worn out or they have been neglected and left in sheds and the parts have seized up for lack of use.

She said RAD Bikes has three main pillars which are access to cycling, minimising waste and community well-being.

It was important for people "to get their hands dirty" and learn about fixing their own bike, rather than just coming in and waltzing off after someone else does all the work, she said.

RAD Bikes also asks for koha for those who have been able to get their bikes fixed or have bought a spare part.

"The awesome thing is, over the last decade, we've really built a reputation for being the place to drop [bikes] so we actually have an amazing flood of bikes coming our way."