From our surveys in high schools, we know that many youth have bikes. Ownership rates range from a high of 88 per cent, to a low of 55 per cent. What we don’t see is them being ridden to school.
We heard that students would consider riding to school if their bike didn’t have a flat tire, or if the brakes weren’t broken. How do you take your bike in to be fixed when you can’t ride it to the Bike Shop?
We want to make bike repair and maintenance more accessible for youth. We know they will be more likely to get their bikes fixed if it was convenient and reasonably priced.
So we decided to take a Bike Shop to schools.
We worked with the Alberta Emerald Foundation to create a mobile bike shop we are calling or Bike Shop in a Box. It has a stand, tools, cables and spare parts – everything needed for basic bike repair. Schools can have the box delivered for 2-4 week intervals to align with their plans to teach bike repair (either to students or teachers), fix up student bikes, or just allow students to tinker and learn.
Understanding how to take care of a bike is important for every cyclist. Students are less likely to be stranded by a dropped chain or flat tire if they have the confidence to fix it on their own.
We’ve had the Box in service at Lester Pearson High School, in Northeast Calgary, where teachers learned basic repair and maintenance. The school is collecting a class fleet to use in PE class. The knowledge they gained in our session with Adam Rhind from Bathtub Bikes, means teachers can look after the fleet and keep the bikes working well.
Over the coming weeks, the Box will go to Bishop McNally where the Bike Club will use it to fix up a couple old bikes to give to students. After that, it will be on to Crescent Heights High School and Winston Churchill in Lethbridge.
We know a number of schools are working to provide credited courses in bike repair. They want their students to have access to hands on, skill-based technical learning that fits with curriculum and provides skills students can take to the workforce. Many bike shops report that it’s hard to find repair technicians with the knowledge and passion to drive a career. Our programs may help.
Thanks to Bathtub Bikes, Ridley’s Cycle, B and P Cycles and Canadian Tire Macleod Trail for the donations and deals on tool, parts and materials. And thanks too to the Emerald Foundation for providing the funds to make it happen.
You can expect to read more about how the Bike Shop in a box is being used across Southern Alberta in future posts.