As if overnight, a bike hub has popped up in the Northcote town centre. Where did it spring from? Well, back in July, Panuku and the Northcote Business Association had a thought: with the Northcote Safe Cycle Route being built right past the door, how could they actively invite more people on bikes to visit the town centre? Panuku, in turn, approached the vigorous volunteers in our local bike burb, Bike Kaipatiki, with a tempting offer.
Could Bike Kaipatiki take over an empty shop front and turn it into a pop-up bike hub?
Could they ever! BK has run regular bike tune-up stands at local parks and a bike market at the YMCA, so they know how to run an event and draw a crowd. Given their super organizing skills – and the fact several of the core crew are able to set their own hours (as programmers, business analysts, project managers) – a couple of days a week and one day on the weekend seemed doable.
A last-minute twist saw the empty shop front leased to a new tenant… which meant Plan B: a shipping container!
With the container scheduled to arrive in early September, the team had just four weeks to plan how to transform it into a drop-in space for conversations, bike repair, and more. Shipping pallets were used to create walls and a cubby room; posters were printed; boxes of maps arrived from Auckland Transport; and batteries were sourced to power a screen showing videos of local bike fun.
The hub opened in September, offering bike maintenance and repairs, local info and bike knowledge, and a place to chat about local cycle routes – existing, planned, and beyond. The project also accepts donated bikes to be repaired and passed on through charitable organisations. And, cleverly, several bikes are kept at the hub for free borrowing – so locals can ‘have a go’ for an hour or two, if they don’t have a bike of their own.
Any doubts about whether Northcote was ready for a bike hub were immediately allayed. In the first two weeks, 300 people popped into the container, and more than 40 bikes were checked and repaired. As we went to print, the stats were 620 visitors and a whopping 127 bikes repaired!
The team also threw a big bike party at the container on the first weekend, with bike decoration, face painting, and so on, followed by a lit-up night-time group ride along the new cycleway, with entertaining bike games to keep everyone warm and happy.
Bike Kaipatiki volunteers are at the hub on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and the project will run through to the 27th of October. Duncan Laidlaw, our tireless committee member and leader of the Hub team for the duration, says that while Saturdays bring more families and younger people, it’s been especially interesting to see who pops in during the week. ‘During the week, our daytime visitors include lots of older riders, 60+, 70+, even 80+, all biking for transport, to the shops, the library and so on – all in regular clothes.’
And, amongst all ages and all kinds of riders, there’s a sense of growing excitement about what Seapath and Skypath will mean in the way of connections, and an embrace of the local cycleways and the potential for more. Fair to say, when it comes to a bike-friendly future… it’s a Shore thing.
The Bike Kaipatiki pop-up Bike Hub is in the Northcote Town Centre until October 27th. Pop in with your bike to get a free bike tune-up, maps, bells, backpack covers and more. Have a chat with our friendly volunteers. Borrow a free bike for up to 2 hours.
Thursday 18th 10am to 4pm – NB this is the last day to donate bikes.
Closed over Labour Weekend
Tuesday 23rd 10am to 4pm
Thursday 25th 10am to 4pm
Saturday 27th 9am to 3pm – final day of operation for now!
Read more about Bike Kaipatiki, the Bike Hub, and what’s planned for cycling on the Shore, in this fabulous feature in Channel Magazine by Christine Young.