Durban - The concrete floor at the Durban Bicycle Kitchen in the Point is covered with old Dutch bikes, tools, tubes, and the mandatory tyre pump.
It’s the new kid on the block set to get the cycling scene cooking, and you’re welcome even if you don’t own a bike or know how to ride one.
“We are a space where people who have an interest in bikes and cycling can come and ask questions, share experiences, donate old bikes, or tools, or take on the rebuilding of a bike as a project and donate it,” said Gabriella Peppas, head “cook”, as they call themselves, rather than volunteer.
Peppas started the Kitchen about a month ago, based on a bicycle kitchen she participated in when she lived in Los Angeles several years ago.
“I love cycling and fixing up my own bikes, and I used to visit the Los Angeles Bicycle Kitchen a lot and worked on my bikes there with other people.
“It was a great fun space and I want to recreate the same thing here in Durban. This trend of the kitchens has grown around the world in the past few years. I’m a big advocate for a cycling community and eco-friendly transport systems. And, of course, Durban has great weather for cycling,” she said, adding that the team would show off what they do at this weekend’s Sustainable Living Expo.
The team has already fixed dozens of old bikes that were destined for the scrap-metal heap, and donated them to deserving young people.
“We want to expose people who have never ridden a bike before to it, but also empower them with skills to fix their own bikes. This is why we have this space now where anyone can come and get their hands greasy fixing up old bikes that we can donate,” she said.
The Kitchen hosts Tuesday evening sessions, where people can join in.
“We are looking at hosting female-only sessions as well, to teach women about bikes. People often think it’s men who know how to fix things, so we want to change this. We are also looking at hosting many more mass-cycling events,” she said.
One of the “cooks” is Sineziwe Khumalo, 25, who only recently learnt how to ride a bike, and who was the recipient of a donated bike.
“It’s incredible being able to maintain my bike myself and cycle all along the promenade,” she said.
For more information, visit them on Facebook on their page called Durban Bicycle Kitchen.