Prison’s bike recycling initiative donates 30 bikes to local school

Published on 15 November 2021

Students riding donated bikes

Students at Fergusson Intermediate are the latest recipients of Rimutaka Prison’s community bike recycling partnership with Upper Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and the Cycle Centre, receiving 30 bikes for their bike programme.

The initiative which started in 2016, sees the people in Rimutaka Prison’s care ‘upcycle’ donated second-hand bikes into quality, refurbished bikes, gifted to those who would not normally be able to access them. It was extended in 2021 to support local school bike programmes.

“New bikes can be expensive and are currently difficult to source due to COVID-related demand and shipping delays” says Upper Hutt Mayor, Wayne Guppy. “It’s great to see people donating bikes that are going back out into our community, it’s more sustainable and benefits the children in our schools. Win-win.”

Providing children with bikes is also popular way of encouraging physical activity, with children getting the associated benefits (health, fitness, self-esteem, coordination, balance, focus/concentration at school).

The bikes donated to Fergusson Intermediate are stored at the school, with children having access to them during school hours.

Ed Banks, a teacher a Fergusson Intermediate who has been coordinating the bike programme, says “We are excited to be working closely with Upper Hutt City Council’s Activation team, and receiving a class set of bikes. This will enhance our students' education outside the classroom, especially with the wonderful River Trail so close and accessible. Our vision is to Amplify the Awesome, in this case, we can Amplify their confidence as cyclists, their physical activity and the accessibility to bikes to a larger number of students.”

The initiative is a true community partnership with a number of organisations working together to help Upper Hutt benefit:

  • The men working on the bikes are supervised by a qualified bike mechanic, who is also a Corrections Officer. Rimutaka Prison allocates funds towards the project.
  • Andrew at the Cycle Centre in Upper Hutt has provided the people in Rimutaka Prison’s care with training and support to refurbish bikes to a safe standard. Andrew will also support the school with a follow up bike mechanic service.
  • GWRC supports schools with cycling skills and education through their Pedal Ready programme. They also gifted helmets to Fergusson Intermediate to accompany the 30 bikes.
  • Upper Hutt City Council’s Activation team manages the administration, promotion, and bike collection and drop off. The Council also provided financial support for the project this year through its COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“From my time on the Board of Trustees here at Fergusson, I know the tamariki will benefit from these bikes and grow their knowledge of active travel options,” says Greater Wellington Councillor Ros Connelly. “The people in Rimutaka Prison’s care are enabling more Upper Hutt schools to take part in biking activities, like Bikes in Schools, Movin’March and Pedal Ready, that Greater Wellington delivers with Upper Hutt City Council.”

Aaron Jeffs from Corrections says “the men love working on the bikes, learning transferable skills that they can pass on to their own whānau. The community support has been consistent since 2016, with bikes being dropped at the prison for refurbishment and rehoming.”

The next bike donation drive will be held on Sunday, 12 December at Maidstone Park, between 11.00 am and 2.00 pm. Donate your unwanted or unused bikes to support the project and get bikes to people in need. You can find out more on Facebook, @ActivationUH.

If you or someone you know needs a bike, but is not in a position to purchase one, you can nominate them at activation.org.nz.