Overview - Bike Kitchens in Gothenburg and Karrot


As requested by Karrot developers, an overview of how the Bike Kitchens are working in Gothenburg:

The concept
A Bike Kitchen (hereafter BK) is a do-it-yourself non-commercial workshop where you get free access to tools and also get help to learn how to fix your bike. There are also used spare parts that you can get and many times you can get a whole bike for free (or the price of a membership, which is cheap), if you fix whatever needs fixing to be functional. The bikes in the BK are usually donated by housing companies when they clean up the areas around the buildings or in their basements and get rid of abandoned bikes. There’s always a whole bunch of bikes to be saved around town.

The different BKs in town

There are around 5-6 Bike Kitchens in different neighbourhoods but currently only 3 of them are active. One is closed for winter, another because of lack of volunteers and the other I don’t know (gotta do more research!).

  • The oldest BK (Masthugget) has existed for many years, is completely run by volunteers and is the group using Karrot now. They open 3 times a week.
  • Another one (Gamlestan) was opened by Tomasz like one year ago or more and although he gets help now and then, it is mainly him who opens the place twice a week.
  • BK at Kålltorp was put up by the city district and has one employee opening it once a week (not sure how long they can keep the guy employed given the new conservative austere city budget).
  • One BK at Biskop was also started by the city district, some months ago, and had very few volunteers who disappeared for different reasons. The place and the tools are still there.
  • The other BK at Biskop (cykelfix) was an initiative of another volunteer who is still active at the first BK and it’s in cooperation with the Red Cross. They open every other week but it’s closed for winter
  • The BK at Tynnered is closed I heard, but I don’t know why and I don’t know anything about it. Will look into it…
  • The are also a couple of other BKs at neighbouring cities (Borås and Mölndal) and I know nothing about them.

The context

If I’m not mistaken, except for the first BK which has been around for many years, all the other ones are quite recent, not being older than around 2 years and some just months old. The interest has grown a lot and also the resources available, also because of a city budget dedicated exclusively to fomenting the creation of more BKs around town (which in my opinion was horribly executed, but that’s another story…). It’s good that there’s been some political interest and this whole momentum of making available all of the resources (what you really need to start a BK is a place and the tools), but in my analysis all of this will be short-lived if there isn’t a conscious effort to reach out to people, give them the opportunity not only to volunteer but also to become the actual stewards of these initiatives. And a good digital infrastructure can facilitate things that a lot in this regard (though not guarantee, that’s for sure), and that’s our mission! :slight_smile:

How Karrot has been used and could be used

As I mentioned before, only the first BK is actively using Karrot. Tomasz has also put up a group and the “pickups” for Gamlestan in the same group as CK Göteborg, but I think he’s the only one from Gamlestan using it so far. Here are the features they use:

  • Conversations and threads: by far the most used
  • Pickups: used for opening the workshop. I think most of the people who are coming to open up are also signing up on Karrot, but they are definitely not many people (I’ve only seen 3 regulars out of 20 in the group so far) and that is because it’s winter (the place has barely any heating, so only a few heroes will take the challenge).
  • Stores: these are the locations for the Bike Kitchens and the actual bike pickups. However, they do not put the bike pickup as a Karrot-pickup since there is not a decided day and time for it, but it’s flexible, so they just write down the information they need on the store description, like which person to be contacted and how many bikes.
  • Feedback: not used at all. One of the members was confused by the word, when I said I was interested in taking feedback on Karrot itself. It could be useful maybe for them to report how many people showed up (they have to count that to report to the study organization paying the rent) or how many bikes were saved.

So Karrot could be of great use not only for communication purposes, but also to organize who’s opening the workshop and when, as well as some bike pickups (they got rid of a Facebook chat and a Google spreadsheet already and that’s a win!). But if used on a smaller scale as it is now, any other tool for team organization would probably suffice. The way I see Karrot being more uniquely useful in this case is for scaling up, with more BKs and volunteers involved, where you need better and more visible coordination of tasks and places associated with them. The question of whether they would join the same group or prefer to create different groups within Karrot remains to be seen, when we invite them later, but anyhow it would be important to create a sense of community and make it easy for people to belong and switch between groups if they choose that.

Uff, end of report! :bike: