Wellington’s Community Bike Workshop Seeks New Home
2 February 2017
Following a reorganization of the space at the 128 Collective’s Radical Social Centre, located at 128 Abel Smith Street, Wellington community bike workshop The Mechanical Tempest is seeking a new location that will better suit their needs by March of 2017.
Mechanical Tempest, which has operated in the 128 Collective since 2003, is Wellington’s DIY bike workshop. The organization is devoted to the empowerment and education of all people in the discipline of bike assembly and maintenance, as well as the creation of a safe and sustainable cycling community.
A group of approximately fifteen volunteer mechanics run MT as an educational workspace, where tools are placed in the hands of cyclists of all skill levels, to allow them to learn at their own pace to repair and service their bicycles using donated parts and machinery. In an effort to adhere to Wellington’s progressive culture, as well as the reality of bicycling as an environmentally sound transportation option, MT recycles and repurposes old or damaged bicycles that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill.
Volunteer mechanic, Sylvie Froncek, sifting through a pile of donated bicycles.
Given the abundance of old and/or damaged bicycles, however, even getting in the front door of MT’s current workspace can present a challenge. Visitors must first navigate a collection of project bikes hanging from the wall and ceiling, while simultaneously performing a sort of slow-motion dance through a bicycle graveyard of donated bikes and wheels. Following this, one finds oneself in a pleasant, though packed workshop featuring half a dozen independent workstations and several sets of tools, along with a nicely-organized collection of old bike components available for use. Although the space is functional, a larger space is clearly necessary for the collective to expand to meet the needs of the Wellington bike community.
Currently MT is open Monday-Thursday from 6pm-8pm and during which time the workshop might service up to thirty people, under the supervision of two mechanics. As such, the space can become quite crowded. In spite of this, the atmosphere remains light and friendly. There is no fee for use of the workshop, tools or parts, although people are welcome leave koha, which is used to keep the lights on, purchase heavy duty hand soap, (a necessary commodity when working with greasy parts,) and maintain a ready supply of consumables like patch kits and brake pads.
How you can help: The Mechanical Tempest needs a new space to move into by the end of the summer. The ideal workshop would be large and open, preferably with a separate room for bike storage. Running water, electricity and open ventilation are necessary to create a safe working environment. In addition, it is vital that the new space be centrally located in Wellington, and easily accessible, in order to continue MT’s commitment to being an organization available to any and all people. MT’s scheduling make it easy for them to time share with another organization. If you don’t have a space to offer but still want to get involved, support from friends and fellow cycling enthusiasts in the form of volunteer time, mechanical donations or monetary assistance are always greatly appreciated.