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Self-help bicycle workshop at PTZ

Biking instead of driving. The bicycle is gaining popu-larity as means of transportation in metropolitan are-as. Being a cost-efficient, space-saving environmentally friendly alternative to automobiles, bikes are an essential part of the new urban lifestyle. But it’s not just the practical use of bikes often being the fastest way to get around in metropolitan areas that shape its popularity. For do-it-yourself manufacturers the bicycle is more than a vehicle. They alter the bike’s components, rebuild entire bikes or construct bikes themselves from scratch. But not everybody has the tools and skills to properly perform the tasks needed to repair and alter bikes. The solution: so called “self-help workshops”. These work-shops already exist in most major cities all over Europe. Often founded by self-trained bicycle technicians and funded by the government, these self-help workshops assist people in repairing or constructing their own bike by offering help for self-help as provide a contribution to local manufacturing. the collaborative research project “Sustainable Manufacturing – Shaping global value creation” hosted a two day workshop related to the topic, to get to the bottom of the role self-help bicycle workshops play in local value creation and what the potentials of these types of enterprises are. Sixteen participants representing bicycle workshops, bike designers, manufacturers and representatives of universities and associations from Grenoble, Biarritz, Nancy, Berlin and Cologne met on May 23rd in Berlin to start the two day work shop. One participant arrived at the technical university of Berlin’s production research facility on a self-designed and manufactured bamboo bike, illustrating how self-help bicycle workshop can lead to innovation and sustainability. The objective of the work-shop was to identify con-crete problems from the field and match them with the research themes ad-dressed in the SFB. The first identified potential for improvement was the collaboration and exchange of practical knowledge, for example new bicycle de-signs, learning materials and work shop operation best practices, through the development an open-knowledge. The second area identified was the lack of skills about bicycle manufacturing and repairing of the work shop visitors and general public. A problem to which the SFB research could respond to with the concept of “learnstruments”. “Learnstruments” enable nonprofessionals to gain the skills to manufacture and repair bikes on their own through self-explaining tools. The third question raised was how the activities of self-help workshops can provide benefits to and benefit from all participants in the bicycle life cycle. Bicycle manufacturers could for example benefit for feed-back about the reparability of their products, work-shops could benefit from centralized collection agencies for used bicycles. Based on the cases illustrated in the workshop researchers within the SFB will further explore self -help as a means to localize manufacturing. The momentum of such activites may help to further pro-mote the bike as the most sustainable way of personal urban transportation.

Type of Event: Workshop
Date of Event: 23/05/13

PTZ Berlin

Contact: Jérémy Bonvoisin: ++49/ (0)30/ 314-22852

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