Hackney Bike Workshop #1
I arrived for the Hackney Bike Workshop at St Michael and All Angels Church a bit after 8pm. (It started at 7 and wrapped up at 9). I was a little late as I had been in another meeting across town. And it was a pretty miserable night – dark, wet and wintery. I was hoping the rain might ease before I set off as I had an unsealed bike frame on my back. But both I and the bike were dripping by the time I arrived. Given the weather, I did not expect the place to be super busy – it was.
The workshop was held in an old church hall; an open high ceiling space with adjoining kitchen. It was filled with people and bikes. Old sheets protected the floor, tools lay scattered on seats and bikes leant against walls, near stacked seats and mounted on stands. Chatter filled the air. It was busy! Yet, despite the activity, I was greeted at the door, welcomed, my name was put onto a list and I was offered a cup of tea. There were also apologies about the dearth of cake. I arrived a bit to late to partake in cake – next time!
As I waited for my turn and drank my tea I chatted with some of the organisers. I learned that there were six volunteer mechanics helping people with their bikes tonight. I saw road bikes, a fixed gear and various hybrids. According to the list, over 23 people had come through the doors and had (or were currently getting) their bike problems addressed. The night was viewed by the organisers as a successful evening.
The aim of the workshop is to not only fix people’s bike and keep them on the road, but to teach owners how to do it themselves. I watched how mechanics put this into practice; first explaining and then demonstrating and then handing tools to people to try it for themselves. The range of problems were as varied as the bikes. Some people wanted to know about fixing punctures and adjusting brakes. Some needed their gears tinkered with. Others simply needed to learn about how to change the height of their seats and handlebars. One woman brought in a vintage bike and wanted to know if it was ridable – at the end of the night it was.
Due to the demand on volunteer mechanics, there was no time for me in the end but I enjoyed being there, talking with people and watching the flurry of bike activities. I’ll definitely be attending the next Bike Workshop – this time in London Fields. And I will be super early (for the bike assistance and hopefully for cake too!).
London Fields: 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at Frampton Park Baptist Church, Frampton Park Road (just east of Mare Street and North of Well Street).