The repair shop, situated in an old ship-building site in Malmö.
A few days ago I stumbled upon a piece of news that I would say is the best I’ve heard this week. Ever since the snow started to melt and I took my bike out from its winter sleep, I’ve been dreaming about a place where I could learn how to fix my bike. Standing alone in the bicycle room of my block of flats, lacking the right tools or not knowing how to fix a simple gear problem just isn’t that fun.
On Tuesday I realised there is actually a place like this, that just opened in Malmö [map]: A bicycle kitchen, or Cykelköket as it’s called in Swedish.
Cykelköket in Stapelbäddsparken is a fully equipped bicycle repair shop, where anyone can come and fix their bike for free.
Bertil Björk at an outside repair session.
Finding that my dream already existed in reality, I get all excited and call Bertil Björk, who is the bike kitchen founder. He tells me he got the idea from Los Angeles, where the first place like this once started, and then the idea was later spread to many other countries.
– Malmö is a great city to cycle in, since it’s flat and has a good infrastructure with lots of bike lanes and a planning which prioritizes bicycles instead of cars, he says.
At Cykelköket you can’t buy a bike, and you can’t pay someone else to fix your bike either. The aim is to raise the status of bikes and cycling, to improve public health and the environment, and also to encourage more girls and women to come to the repair shop.
Early in the process the project got a starting grant from the local environment adminsitration, which gave them the courage to go for it. But although money is needed in order to found something like this, what’s maybe even more important is volunteers willing to run it, says Bertil Björk.
– The social aspect of it is an enormously important part. We don’t want this to be “just” a repair shop with experts. Instead people should learn from each other. If I know how to fix a puncture I can show someone else.
In addition to fixing bikes and arranging workshops, Cykelköket will also cooperate with landlords, so that they can donate abandoned bicycles found on their premises to the repair shop. Then those who need a new back wheel or want to create a whole new vehicle can get parts for free.
– That’s almost the most fun part of it all, to get these abandoned bikes and give them new owners, says Bertil Björk.
More gender balance at the repair shop is another great aim of the project.