Green Bike News

The Whanganui Green Bikes scheme recycles donated bikes, making them roadworthy to lend out for a minimal charge.

The scheme has been operating for approximately 10 months now, six of those with funding from NZ Transport Agency and Whanganui Community Foundation. To date, we have given out approximately 100 bikes, with 10 more ready and waiting for their new riders.  Many bikes and parts have been donated, to the extent that we now have an ample supply, as well as a number which have already been disassembled for parts.

Green Bikes stands as a community-based cycling advocacy group.  We aim to help raise the profile of cycling as an effective, efficient, fun and worthwhile means of transport.

The project aims to decrease car use and increasing cycling in Whanganui by making it easier for those without a bike to access one.  It gives an opportunity to first-timers to try cycling out, perhaps encouraging them to go on and buy their own cycles. 

We are working locally to help achieve the increased cycling and walking targets set by the NZ Transport Strategy, which is 30% of all trips by 2040, almost double the present figure.  Lack of exercise contributes to obesity and a range of health problems subject to government remedial action.  Increasing regular activity such as utility cycling is helping to address this issue directly by encouraging people to ‘get on their bikes’.

Everyone in Wanganui benefits from reduced car traffic.  Those who cycle as a result of the scheme benefit in terms of their health and pocket.  Cycling is extremely cost efficient for those on a low budget, such as people who are out of work.  This is especially important in the current financial climate with the likelihood of more people losing their jobs.  With the economic downturn we can expect more low-income people to come forward needing bikes.

All bicycles are repaired with the intention that they will be safe to ride, and if maintained will last the recipient for a reasonable amount of time. We pay particular attention to brakes and tyres in the interests of making the bicycles safe.  We also assist people in choosing a bicycle which suits their physical, practical and lifestyle needs.

Our workshop has been fitted out almost entirely with recycled and found materials and a minimal budget, to create a functional bicycle workspace for up to 4 people.  It is often used by people fixing up their own bikes and volunteers, including two regulars with intellectual disabilities. 

We sometimes help low-income people with basic bicycle repairs and expect that this does not interfere much with the business of local bike shops.  (It is our policy to try and not take business away from local cycle shops but rather offer a complementary service).

Jonah Marinovich, Workshop Manager, has constructed four cycle trailers during this time specifically to order out of old supermarket trolleys, marginal bicycle parts and found materials.  This is making clear practical statements about saving resources that would otherwise go to landfill and innovative use of bicycle technology where people might otherwise default to driving cars. 

We recently provided five rented bikes and mobile bicycle-powered mechanical support to “Slow Flow”,  a local art/technology project aimed at exploring and elaborating the interface between media, technology and sustainability. The Green bicycles were ridden 60 km from Jerusalem to Wanganui along the Whanganui river.
The Green Bikes project is needed in this community because bicycles and getting more people on them are key factors in making Wanganui more Sustainable. 

Sustainable Whanganui Trust, which oversees the scheme, has identified Transport as a major component of a Transition Town initiative underway.  Transition Towns are bringing people together out of a desire to explore how we - and our communities - can respond to the twin challenges of Climate Change and Peak Oil.

We will be running cycle training workshops, having gained funding from the Walking & Cycling Microfund. 

Green Bikes helped run BikeWise in March 2009, which involved a ‘Go by Bike Day’ featuring free breakfasts and the ‘Mayoral Challenge’ bike ride.

The project’s outcomes are:
a) better, more sustainable transport with less car use and associated parking problems
b) more walking and cycling
c) a healthier populace in Whanganui
d) less waste going to landfill
e) reduced unemployment.

Foe further information, please contact:
Hadi Gurton
Green Bikes Coordinator