About the project

ReBicycle, a community run project launched this week, turns second hand bicycles into quality transport options. The bikes and parts are donated or cheaply sourced and mechanics volunteer their time.

Hilleke Townsend set the project up, hoping to provide a transport option for people in need.

“A bike is quite liberating in many ways. If you can bike to work or for some short trips, it saves a huge amount of money. ” she says.

Hilleke decided to donate the first upcycled bikes to some of New Zealand’s new arrivals after she saw a Facebook post asking for donations to help a Syrian family.

“I met and worked with many former refugees when I was living overseas and it made me realise how difficult it can be for a family to pack up and move to a different country,” she says, “a little kindness can make the world of difference in that situation.”

The El Masri family

The El Masri family is the recipient of the bikes; they fled their Syrian home in 2011 and have now settled in Lower Hutt.

Red Cross volunteer Jessie Moss says the family is extremely resourceful and have quickly learned to ride.

“I look forward to biking some of the Hutt River trail with them soon when the weather warms up,” she says.

How to get involved

ReBicyle has a small stock of bikes which they are looking to match with other families who arrive as refugees, but Hilleke says they want to support the wider community.

“We want to work with other organisations and eventually have a proper bike library, where anyone who can’t afford to buy a bike can borrow one for a small koha,” she says.

Currently ReBicycle is seeking donations of decent quality (fixable) bikes, especially children’s bikes, along with pumps, toolkits, and accessories. Donations can be dropped off to Bicycle Junction, Burkes Cycles or the Sustainability Trust.