A Midlothian Council cycle repair initiative has been putting funding from Levenseat to good use by fixing local children’s bikes for free.
Levenseat are the council’s bulky waste recycling partner and has pledged financial support for local organisations involved in reuse/recycling initiatives and sustainable/environmental activities. Projects have included, cycle repair initiatives, and mend and repair community projects.
Loanhead Bike Refurbishment Project were awarded funding to keep their Bike Tent pop-up cycle repair hub stocked with consumables such as brake pads, cables, tyre inner tubes, and bike lubricant.
Out and about
The Bike Tent is manned by Roddie Macleod and Rod Murray, part of the Communities, Lifelong Learning and Employability (CLLE) team, both trained bike technicians.
They visit the feeder schools for Lasswade High School during the spring and autumn months, pitching up in a different playground every Friday afternoon.
Pupils can bring along their bikes and have squeaky brakes tuned, gears realigned or leaky inner tubes replaced free of charge.
If they can’t fix something on the spot, the Bike Tent team will supply a ticket explaining what needs to be done, along with details of a local bike business able to do the work, and an estimate of how much it’s likely to cost.
Repairs, maintenance and advice
Roddie and Rod came up with the idea of offering help with basic bike maintenance, repairs, and advice to local kids as a way of bringing their expertise out into the community again after the pandemic.
Starting off in local parks, the pair were quick to note the initiative’s popularity, making the decision to expand their reach by bringing the Tent along to local schools as well.
Busier than ever
Nearly two years on, they’re busier than ever. According to Roddie, “The uptake has been really good – much better than we thought. Sometimes we’ve been at the schools until four or five o’clock and having to lock up ourselves, running out of resources and telling folk we’ll have to take bikes away and bring them back. So it’s kind of grown arms and legs!”
“We are hoping to be able to replicate the model across all the clusters in Midlothian, because it’s been successful. As well as fixing the bikes, it’s good for meeting parents and young people, teachers and schools – getting that relationship built back up after COVID, where that’s maybe kind of fallen away a wee bit.”
Roddie and Rod clearly get as much out of Bike Tent as the children they’re helping. Roddie explains: “I enjoy my Fridays, getting out and meeting folk for a change. Last week we fixed two bikes from a family who weren’t in a situation where they could afford take them to a bike shop.
“We got these two young girls back on their bikes and able to cycle. It’s a bit cliched, but just to see the smile on their faces, you know you make a wee bit of impact there.”
Rod adds: “I teach bike maintenance to high school and primary school kids every day, but this is the fun bit! It’s really good coming in and interacting with the kids. We always have a good laugh with them.
“We are doing maybe £30-£40 worth of repairs on each bike, and we are doing that for free. It keeps the kids on the road, helps them stay active and healthy, and that’s what we are trying to encourage.”
And even after the school term is finished, the Bike Tent will continue its travels. As Roddy confirms: “We’ll be in Bonnyrigg Skate Park over the summer, and we’re not exclusive to young people either – if adults do ever want to come along, we’re more than happy to look at everybody’s bikes!”