We all have those moments where we dream “Wouldn’t it be great to have a place nearby, where I could work on my bike and get some advice on how to maintain it”.
Throw in a little bit of creativity, a loan from the London Cycling Campaign, a hint of luck and a credit card and those dreams can come true.
This is exactly what Californian turned Londoner Jenni Gwiazdowski did. Around 12 months ago she spotted an empty unit in a street not far from Old Street tube station. When she heard about the London Cycling Campaign’s Community Cycling Fund, Jenni started making enquiries.
It turned out the unit had been empty for 10 years. They were desperate for someone to take on the challenge an turn it in to something.
Within days of making the initial announcements and talking to local businesses, Jenni had a team of 7 enthusiastic mechanics. All of which will be responsible for teaching separate courses and providing maintenance advice. From bicycle maintenance to everything you need to do to prepare for a long distance tour, the courses will cater to many different needs. The cost of the courses is £60 which includes a year’s membership to the London Bike Kitchen.
Aside from the courses, the London Bike Kitchen is an open DIY workshop where you can use a fully equipped professional tool library and bike stand. There’s everything you could possibly need to keep your bike clean, well oiled and well maintained. More importantly, there’s unlimited tea and coffee.
Becoming a member also gives you access to members only events such as movie nights and barbeques. The newest event is a W.a.G night. This will teach bicycle maintenance to those who traditionally wouldn’t maintain their bike themselves and instead leave it up the men.
The London Bike Kitchen has already had a great response from the local community, with plenty of people popping their heads in to see what the workshop is about.
When you are next in the area, I strongly recommend a visit. Until Jenni is able to dedicate more of her time, the opening hours will be Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 7pm. Though occasionally there are courses taking place on Sunday mornings until 2pm.
Jenni has a great energy and enthusiasm about her with plenty of great ideas on which direction to take the London Bike Kitchen in. I’m excited to watch it evolve and really hope it will be very successful.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.