Thursday, 26 May 2011

Best way forward?

For the past year there's been a Pedal Power Kennington workshop space at the former Lilian Baylis school in Lollard Street, thanks to the enthusiasm of pupils at the current Lilian Baylis School and funding from TfL. A lot of 10-16 year olds have, by and large, had a great time there. The same goes for those adults involved with the project.

The site is now scheduled to be sold by Lambeth and the Sports Action Zone have relinquished the lease on the site. So what's the best way forward?

Having a dedicated space offers a degree of freedom. It's a 'known' space - it's for working on bikes. It's a 'safe' space. There are a couple of adults around to mediate when issues arise. It's a storage space too, with all kinds of bits and pieces to hand.

But it's also a millstone. I've felt kind of guilty about having such a space in use for only a few hours each week, plus the onus to pay rent on the space. And there's always the question of when it'll be broken into.

But perhaps the biggest question is whether it's the best place to put effort if getting more people cycling is the intent.

A group of young people have had a great time over the past year, learnt some stuff, cycled more - and at least 100 bikes have been given away to them. But compared with how many could have been reached by workshops in schools or youth clubs......?

It's time to bid for some more funding, and firm up plans for next year, and at the beginning of this week the room was broken into, a couple of bikes, various parts and most of the small tools stolen. Luckily a few bikes were off site and a few beat the efforts of the thieves to break the locks holding them.

It's time to reflect. Maybe it's time to move to a more peripatetic Pedal Power Kennington. Rather than have a hub, let's move from site to site, school to school, youth club to youth club, street to street. More travelling circus than bricks and mortar theatre. I don't believe it will stop us from being able to give bikes to the community or provide oppotunities for people to learn cycle maintenance, but it will allow more people to be reached and a greater concentration on riding bikes rather than spannering them!

But then I'm a little biased as circus rather than theatre is in my blood.

How will it play out? Don't know, let's see as the grant application is drafted.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the space post break-in (thanks to Karim, Mohamet and Simon for helping secure the space subsequently).