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ICYMI: Retired Elora teacher brings new hope with old bikes

With a new portable bike fixit cart in tow, John Scott says the goal is to fix used bikes and offer them to anyone in the community who needs them
WIKE Inc.'s Jason Stoter, from left, Green Lanes volunteer Rob la Bastide, Madison Soegtrop from WIKE Inc., and John Scott from Green Lanes.

This story was previously published on EloraFergusToday.

Nothing ruins a bike ride like a flat tire. But it doesn’t have to be a disaster.

With just a few basic tools, John Scott from Elora wants to show cyclists how easy bike repairs can be.

With a new portable bike fixit cart in tow, Scott, a member of the active transportation advocacy group ‘Green Lanes’, says the goal is to fix used bikes, and offer them to anyone in the community who needs them.

“Especially for Centre Wellington immigrants who want bikes, this allows for greater transportation options and it’s also a great way to connect with the community,” Scott said.

“What I love about this is how simple it is. I can see it helping to make people’s lives a little easier.”

In addition to offering repairs with the bike fixit cart, Scott advocates for stronger bicycle infrastructure in Centre Wellington and is always eager to share the many benefits it can provide.

“It's all about making connections. It’s only through these connections, that we make a stronger community,” he said.

Green Lanes strives for a more equitable, healthy, and happier community.

“As a non-for-profit organization, our mandate is not just about bikes. We know that there are different things, backed by research, that can increase our health and happiness. And those are the things that we are try to do here in Centre Wellington,” Scott said.

“One of them is active transportation. It is clear that if we increase this, the benefits are numerous. This includes cycling.”

After picking up the portable bike fixit cart from bike trailer company WIKE Inc., Scott says there a couple of events planned this spring to get the cart ready, and working.

“WIKI gave us a really great discount. We now have about eight people working on this project and if anyone else would like to get involved, they can just let me know,” Scott said.

“We are looking for used bikes. If anyone has one in their garage that you don’t need anymore, we will take it. I have about 20 used bikes in my garage now. We will have a day where we are just going to take the bad bikes, break them down for parts, and everyone can learn how to fix bikes."

Scott is accepting donations of old used children’s and adult bikes that can be dropped off or picked up. Anyone interested in donating, can reach Scott here.

“We have made a great connection with someone in Fergus who is teaching English to new Canadians. One of our mandates is to create these third spaces where people can gather and feel connected to the community. She has created this big welcome mat for newcomers,” Scott said.

“Many of these people are in need of bicycles to get to work, and move around in the community. As soon as you add a bike, their community becomes larger, and they have access to more things.”

Scott says, of course, the thing with bikes is that they can break down.

“We want to give newcomers access to bikes. But what do you do when it breaks down?” he said.

“And Fergus no longer has a bike shop anymore. Even if they did, they can be very expensive and then you don’t end up riding.”

Scott says typical bike fixes really aren’t that hard to do.

“We hope from that after our 'fix it' day, we will have bikes for people that want them,” Scott said.

“There are five kids in the community right now hoping for a bike. Our goal is to start, and the other goal is to help.”

And along the way, Scott hopes to teach basic bike maintenance.

‘Some of these fixes are pretty simple. The flat tire can seem so insurmountable sometimes. And really, you just need a couple tools,” he said.

“We have this cart now, and what we hope is that people with ideas, can also use it. Maybe someone will want to take it the library on a Saturday.”

Scott says the cart will also visit the Elora Market so that people on bikes can receive some basic maintenance.

For Scott, biking offers a more practical mode of transportation.

“I’m not a ‘bike head’. But what I really care about is health and always have throughout my teaching career. My students moved more than any other students in the school. I started programs around health, and wellness,” Scott said.

“There are a few things can really make a fundamental difference, such as access to nature. The research is so clear on that. It’s not hard, but we make it hard.”

Scott invites any companies to sponsor the cart as there is plenty of room for visible logos.

“As we keep going, we will need continual funding to help pay for things like chain and tire tubes. We have enough to get going, and we will just see where this goes,” Scott said.

“Being on bike, it’s freedom.”

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Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community
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