A few years ago Ben Shue noticed lots of unused and unwanted bikes around town.
He spoke to few like minded individuals and in 2015 FreeWheeling Fun, Bendigo’s bicycling recycling cooperative, was born.
“FreeWheeling Fun’s goals are to provide bicycles, at low cost, for people in our community who might not be able to begin their cycling journey with a brand new bike,” president Emily Bibby said.
“We rely on goodwill and honesty; if you are in genuine need, and if a bike will change your life, we will be thrilled to see you ride away on a FreeWheeling Fun bike.”
Mr Shue said that to date FreeWheeling Fun has provided around 700 bikes to people in the Greater Bendigo area.
“These bikes have changed lives, and allowed individuals and families to get to school, university and work as well as for recreational cycling,” he said.
FreeWheeling Fun is a not-for-profit organisation, and is grateful to the City of Greater Bendigo for its support during the start-up years.
Now it’s primarily supported by donations from the recipients of renewed bikes.
“This helps pay the rent and insurance, and to keep the workshop stocked with the things we need to keep bikes rolling out our doors,” Mr Shue said.
FreeWheeling Fun is supporting local Bendigo suburban groups to do something similar, providing tools and gear to start their own local chapter.
The bikes are all donated by those who would rather see an unused bike fixed and reused rather than taken to the tip and the team prefers to take bikes that are easy to repair.
Volunteers work out of the shed and the volunteer team is led by Richard Hodgson who has many years experience in the bike industry.
“As we are committed to providing bikes that are safe and rideable, we regret that we may not be able to accept every bike offered to us, no matter how generously,” he said.
“If you are unsure about the condition of a bike, please ask one of our friendly volunteers to inspect it for you.”
He said while the volunteers work hard to make donated bicycles safe and reliable they do not carry out further maintenance.
Such a service can be carried out by mechanics at the many excellent bike shops in Bendigo.
If you have some knowledge of bike maintenance and repair, can work independently and are a team player, drop in and chat to Richard and the team during opening hours.
FreeWheeling Fun operates in the shed next to the Good Loaf Bakery between 3pm and 5pm on Wednesdays and Fridays or whenever the Trove Market is on.
The team loves to hear how the bikes have helped individuals find or continue work or education, how refugee families have adapted to life in central Victoria thanks to the bicycles, how a bike has allowed someone to keep friendships alive or about the environmental impact a recycled bike has on the community.
Keep up to date with the team’s goings on at the FreeWheeling Fun Facebook page: facebook.com/FreeWheelingFun