The Bike Station, as its website declares, recycles donated bikes, sell them at affordable prices, and then use the proceeds to help people across Scotland get cycling. It is a commitment that suits Perth Bike Station manager, Mark Sinclair, down to the ground.
Involved with bikes since a young age, Mark is passionate about bikes and cycling, and is ardently committed to making cycling as accessible and inclusive for all.
Initially, when it started in 2010 Mark remembers untangling a lot of bikes. Working in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council, the authority’s waste services collected and delivered and the project has been so successful that the Bike Station now receives on average 300-400 hundred bikes a month from Perth and Kinross and members of the public.
They have now recycled in excess of a staggering 28,000 bikes – that is 424 tons of bicycles that would have been destined for landfill.
Mark is regularly amazed at the generosity and goodwill of people in Courier Country. From vintage, collectable bikes to the latest carbon road racing frames, they get it all. However, not all bikes are repairable, so Mark and his team spend a lot of time dismantling and reusing what they can.
Mark remembers a particular milestone in the history of the Bike Station. Each bike is logged and recorded and in November 2010 they received “bike 100”. Mark told me: “It was a really cold winter with a lot of snow and I remember seeing it under some really rusty bikes at a recycling centre.”
The bike looked relatively unscathed and on closer inspection, he found that it was a Raleigh boy’s bike that looked quite new. He salvaged it from the pile and lovingly took it back to the Bike Station for some attention. Mark continued: “A few days later a friend saw me and asked if I knew where to buy a bike for their son’s Christmas”.
The family had another son and a baby on the way and finances were quite tight. Mark told them about the Bike Station and what he was doing. He agreed to get the bike ready in time for Christmas.
In the workshop he put his mechanical skills to work and, after fitting new brakes, cables and tyres, he stepped back to admire his handiwork. “It struck me that you could hardly tell that the bike had been used before,” Mark told me. The parents paid £70 for the bike and a three-month warranty and left with big smiles on their faces.
The legacy of bikes being passed from one sibling to another, down through the generations, is something I have written about before and Mark told me that the family kept that Raleigh for a long time.
Their eldest son is now at university and the two youngest boys used it. Like a script from an instalment in the Toy Story movie franchise, Mark told me the day came when the family decided to clear out their shed and let the bike go.
So, down to the Bike Station they went with the bike and donated it back to Mark and his team who quickly got to work, replacing the cables and handlebar grips before putting the bike out for sale to someone new.
The Bike Station relies on donations of bicycles and their components to continue doing so much good work. They have a lot of community projects in action including working with the Scottish Prison Service, schools around Tayside and running a programme of Dr Bike maintenance sessions at Dundee University, Ninewells Hospital and Perth and Kinross Council. And if you happen to be in Perth, pop in to the Bike Station and say hi. You may even find your next bike there too.
What: Free: Dr Bike Maintenance Sessions – by the Bike Station
Where: Around Tayside
When: Regular dates are posted on the Bike Station Perth Facebook Page
Where to Donate: Bike Station Perth, 284 High St, Perth, PH1 5QS