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Giving cyclists a leg up

DENISE PIPER
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2013
Whangarei cycling
DENISE PIPER
RIDING TALL: Volunteer Ashley Holwell on a modified tall bike hopes to share the joy of cycling through Whare Bike.

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Whangarei Leader

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Getting more people to use a cheap and effective form of transport is the aim of a free community bike space.

Whare Bike will open in central Whangarei this week, offering a space where people can fix and build bicycles for free.

The volunteer-run initiative will join more than 300 open cycle spaces around the world, says Ashley Holwell, who was involved with two bicycle spaces in Vienna before recently returning to his hometown of Whangarei.

Others involved in the project include Whangarei district councillor Aaron Edwards, cycle tour operator Paul Doherty and Wagon spokesman James Bellamy.

The aim is to encourage more bike users by helping people get unused bikes up and running again and eventually selling or hiring out second-hand bikes.

The tools for fixing bikes are very specific and expensive but the space aims to offer them for free use, along with education, Ashley says.

The project is now appealing for donations of any unused bicycles, bike parts and bike tools.

Ashley says he is grateful for the free rent for the space at 1 Wood St, around the corner from Chipmunks Whangarei. He urges other landlords to also consider community groups for unused properties.

Ashley says cycling around Whangarei is safe and once there are more cyclists, off-road cycleways will become more viable.

"By getting more cyclists on the road, motorists become more aware of them."

Ashley has already been offering free bike services at Whangarei Growers Markets.

"Some people think it's a bit funny, others just love it."

Mr Edwards is disappointed the Raumanga to Onerahi cycleway and Town Basin ring of walkways have been deferred by the Whangarei District Council due to budget constraints.

"We need to get serious about active transport and make sure it's a priority for funding.

"We really need these transport choices now more than ever in terms of health and people's ability to pay for fuel," he says.

Whare Bike will open this Thursday and will run each Thursday from 4pm till 10pm.

On January 25, Whare Bike will host Whangarei's Critical Mass cycle event - an international event where large groups of cyclists get together to promote cycling, Aaron says.

Phone Ashley Holwell on 022 1517 305 if you can donate bicycle parts or tools.

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