Contributed by: Reagan McSwain- Since Covid restrictions have been in place there has been an increase in demand for all things bicycle-related and access to bicycle repairs is no exception. Charlie’s FreeWheels (CFW) has been touring the city pop-up style as they offer free bicycle repairs to youth under 25.
“Lots of people are cycling for the first time as a result of the pandmeic and are turning to bikes as a safe and reliable way to get around,” said CFW Mechanic Danica Drago.
Mobile Repair is a vital service as most people don’t have access to the necessary tools and service can be costly. That’s why the fact that CFW is still running free mobile repair pop-ups is so important.
“There are huge barriers in access to bicycle maintenance. A lot of times it’s hard to pay for any service that may be needed and so we’re seeing youth who are sharing bikes with their siblings,” Drago said.
“The most common repairs we see are chains needing to be replaced, brakes needing slight adjustments, the need to install new brake pads, replace cables or housing, air in tires, those kinds of things,” said CFW Mechanic Noma Javid.
So far, CFW has brought Free Mobile Repairs to Dufferin Grove Park, Regent Park, Parkdale, the Annex, Underpass Park Farmers Market for seven consecutive weeks and continues it’s circuit for the remainder of October- all this and they arrive each week by bike.
“We load up all our gear – a tent, 2 bike stands, tools and a sign onto our shop cargo bike and bike to the pop-up spot of that week, we set up and wait for youth to show up. It’s fun fixing bikes for people who didn’t expect to see us, people get excited when they find us,” Javid said.
“The youth we’re helping are super excited when even one thing is better on their bike, I’ve seen youth out on test rides after only a minor adjustment has been made to their bike and when they realize they no longer hear that noise they rode over to us with, they’re completely blown away,” Drago said.
“A reminder that a little maintenance can do a lot for your riding experience,” Drago said.
For all the latest info on pop-ups and more, follow CFW on Instagram @charliesfreewheels. To donate, visit www.charliesfreewheels.ca/donate