Bike Kitchen

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Cat Johnson:

"A bike kitchen is a place for people to repair their bikes, learn safe cycling, make bicycling more accessible, build community, and support sustainable transportation by getting more people on bikes. Most bike kitchens have tools, parts, mechanics, and a community of knowledgeable cyclists.

Around the world there are thousands of bike kitchens -- also known as bike churches, bike collectives and bike coops -- and more popping up all the time." (


Malmo and Gothenburg Bike Kitchen

By Karin Bradley and Daniel Pargman:

"Our first example of a 21st century commons is the Bike Kitchen, a non-profit DIY bike repair studio concept. Our analysis is based on four interviews with initiators and users at the Bike Kitchens in Malmö and Gothenburg during 2014 and 2015 and on-site observations on three occasions. These Bike Kitchens are part of a larger international network of bicycle kitchens, or community bike repair shops/bicycle collectives. Bike Kitchens appeared in the late 1990s in Europe as well as in California, and have since spread across the world, and can now be found in cities as Buenos Aires, Toronto, Tasmania, Minsk, Madrid, Dortmund etc.1 The initiators of the Malmö Bike Kitchen, which was the first in Sweden when it opened in 2011, were inspired by the Los Angeles Bicycle Kitchen, and Malmö has since become a source of inspiration for other Swedish cities wishing to open their own Bike Kitchens.

The Bike Kitchen is an open DIY repair workshop, where anyone can come to fix their bike or build a bike from recycled spare parts. Tools are available, as are volunteers that can help, but the idea is that ordinary users should help each other, thus building a spirit of collective learning and culture of sharing of space, tools and knowledge (Johnson, 2014). The Bike Kitchens also serve as recycling centers for abandoned bikes. Citizens, the police, housing associations or local businesses donate old bikes or spare parts which people can use free of charge.

Bike Kitchens are run on a non-profit basis, generally by volunteers, and focus on spreading bike repair skills to citizens. A central idea of the Bike Kitchen is that it is accessible and welcoming to all, particularly people with little financial means (Johnson, 2014; Luna, 2012). The Malmö Bike Kitchen is managed by volunteers and a couple of part-time paid workers funded by a non-profit foundation. The Gothenburg Bike Kitchen is entirely run by volunteers, who alternate responsibility for managing the facility every month. The Bike Kitchens in Gothenburg and Malmö are managed as membership organisations, but they charge a very low annual fee of 5 and 10 Euros respectively, per year. Non-members may use the facilities as well, but are encouraged to become members if they make frequent use of the facilities. The Gothenburg Bike Kitchen receives funding for its premises and is run in cooperation with an educational non-profit foundation.2 The Malmö Bike Kitchen (Figure 1) has received funding from a non-profit foundation and some limited financial support from the municipality.3 The idea is to keep rules simple and easily readable on walls at the sites: this is a DIY repair/build workspace, give help to others and feel free to borrow tools and use spare parts.

The Bike Kitchen is an open concept that can be copied and taken up by anyone. Experiences from managing bike kitchens and tips for people who want to set up a new one are exchanged via forums such as the Bike Collectives Network, regional networking projects (Cykelköket, 2013), online articles (Johnson, 2014) and Wikis.4 The Bike Kitchen serves here as an example of a localised physical commons, often situated in urban areas, but formulated as a concept with certain principles (not-for-profit, DIY, reuse, sharing of spaces, tools and skills, volunteer-run, community building around bike transportation), which can be adapted to fit local circumstances, access to spaces and funding. Thus it bears a resemblance to other physical commons like maker spaces, tool libraries or community gardens." (


  • Common Cycle [1], in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a pop-up, mobile bike kitchen that makes regular appearances at farmers markets and on campus.
  • FenderBender [2] in Detroit is a “a women, queer, and trans centered bicycle workspace rooted in justice principles.”
  • ColectiVelo [3] in Oakland is a no-cash, bilingual community bike kitchen/collaborative made up of people from diverse backgrounds.

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