19 May 2024

Nelson school students back on bikes after community group pitches in with repairs

9:48 am on 19 May 2024
Harlow Bidois with her favourite bike, a red tricycle that she helped to pump the tyres up on. Samantha Gee RNZ.

Harlow Bidois with her favourite bike, a red tricycle that she helped to pump the tyres up on. Photo: RNZ / Samantha Gee

Students at Salisbury School now have a fleet of bicycles they can ride again, after Bike Hub Nelson pitched in to repair nearly 20 bikes that had fallen into disrepair.

Volunteers from the hub spent a morning at New Zealand's only single-sex specialist residential school, working with the students to service and fix the bikes up .

Student Harlow Bidois, 14, from Raglan, lent a hand to pump up flat tyres which she said was "a bit challenging".

Her favourite was a red tricycle with a basket on the back. Now it was fixed, she was looking forward to taking the school dog, a Maltese named Millie, for rides in it around the school grounds.

Bike Hub Nelson co-ordinator Matt Lawrey said the organisation launched two years ago - with a team of volunteers fixing donated bikes to give back to the community. It was supported by both Nelson City and Tasman District councils.

Lawrey said the founders were not sure if the concept would work, but it had exceeded expectations with more than 100 people a month receiving bikes from the hub.

In the last two years, the hub has rehomed more than 2000 bikes, many to those who have no other form of transport.

"The whole success of Bike Hub Nelson is a huge tribute to the Nelson Tasman community, because every bike rehoming starts with someone being generous enough to donate a bike to us."

The Bike Hub also runs a programme to service school bike fleets across Nelson and they hope to offer the same service to schools in Tasman.

The Bikes in Schools programme was launched in 2010 with the aim of helping as many New Zealand children as possible to ride bikes on a regular basis at school.

Shyanne Bade learning some bike maintenance with Bike Hub Nelson co-founder Bevan Woodward. Samantha Gee RNZ.

Shyanne Bade learning some bike maintenance with Bike Hub Nelson co-founder Bevan Woodward. Photo: RNZ / Samantha Gee

Lawrey said many schools did not have the resource or expertise to service and repair the bikes but with the support of Nelson City Council, they had begun a programme to service them.

"A lot of them started falling into disrepair and then not being able to be used and for some schools it became a bit too hard. In some cases there were parents who were able to chip in, but for a lot of them it became really quite tricky."

Salisbury School principal Ellie Salčin-Watts said the school had heard about that work and they had a number of bikes, many donated by former students, that were in desperate need of repair.

The school offers single-sex living and learning for girls with complex learning and social needs.

"We haven't been able to use the bikes for quite some time, we don't have anyone to fix them so it's pretty exciting to have the Bike Hub here repairing all of the bikes and having our girls involved."

Salčin-Watts said the school was grateful that the team had given up a Saturday morning to volunteer their time, effort and talent to help.

"Biking gives our young women really good exercise, it gets them outdoors, it helps support their regulation and the sensory input they need at a residential school and it also gives them the confidence when they go back to their home areas to have learnt basic road skills as well, it's fabulous."

Fleur Maydon, 15, from Wānaka, said it was fun to be involved with the repair work and she had learnt how to put a chain back on for the first time.

Maydon said she liked riding motocross and doing maintenance so it felt good to fix the bikes up so they could be used again.

"We haven't been able to ride them and I want to be able to ride this one because it is my favourite colour and now it is fixed I can finally ride it."

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