Summer is just around the corner – and what better way to enjoy the sunshine and lighter evenings than by getting on your bike!
The team down at the Bike Station in Perth want to encourage you to do just that.
The charity opened its doors in Perth in 2010, and has recently moved to the old Peddie’s Warehouse on the High Street.
Mark Sinclair, the Bike Station’s manager, is passionate about cycling – that much is clear within two minutes of speaking to him. He has aspirations to get people on bikes, whether it’s on a day out with the family or on the daily commute to work, and believes that the Bike Station is the perfect place to get started.
“I think we offer something unique – an opportunity for people to get involved in cycling without having to fork out loads of money on an expensive bike.
Our aim is to produce top quality bikes at very affordable prices. All of the bikes are second hand and have been donated by the public or collected from the local recycling centres. Our highly-trained mechanics then work on the bikes to get them back into great shape before they go on the sales floor.
It’s a chance for people to pick up a decent bike for a cheap price, and then if they find that they really love cycling they can possibly look to upgrade their models in the future.”
The charity runs on donations from the public and has recently increased their permanent staff from four to seven, with Mark hoping to expand further. They also have a bank of between 12 and 14 regular volunteers who give up their time to help out.
Another unique thing about the Bike Station is that they work in conjunction with Scottish Prisons. They now have six prison workshops set up across the Central Belt where they train prisoners to be bike mechanics, and it’s proving to be a very successful collaboration.
“We received some funding from the Robertson Trust and that enabled us to set the workshops up. We trained the officers on how to fix bikes, and they then passed the knowledge onto the prisoners. It’s one of the most popular prison workshops in each of the ones we are set up in.
At the moment, the turnaround is about 20 fixed bikes from each prison per week. The bikes come back to us here and are given a thorough quality check onsite before they are put on the sales floor.”
Mark and his team don’t just teach the prisoners how to fix bikes with their workshops, but they make them feel valued. It can also open doors and provide new opportunities when they are released.
“We have offered work placements to those who are about to be leaving prison and are perhaps allowed out on day release. They can come in to our warehouse and work with our on-site mechanics. They’ve learned new skills and that could be beneficial to them in the long run when they are looking for a job. I think it’s nice that we are able to give them that second chance that a lot of people don’t get.”
The Bike Station also offers a ‘Fix Your Own Bike’ service – where cyclists can come into the warehouse and rent a bench for just £4 per hour. This is something that Mark is very enthusiastic about.
“We’ve always wanted to stand out as something different for the biking community – and I think the Fix Your Own Bike service is just that. For those who are inexperienced, we can offer advice and show you how to do things so that you learn. For those who know what they are doing, they can come in for a blether and make full use of all of our tools for just £4 an hour. And we throw in free tea and coffee to keep you going too!”
Mark and his Bike Station team always welcome donations. If you have an old bike that you no longer use, pop in and see them or drop the bike at your local recycling centre.
Would you like to volunteer with the Bike Station? If so, contact Mark on 01738 444430 to register your interest.