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Foto: Bike Kitchen

Starting in March, learn how to repair your own bike on the Roeterseiland campus

Thirza Lont,
30 november 2022 - 09:55

Starting next year, students and staff on the Roeterseiland campus can learn to repair their bikes at the Bike Kitchen. Interdisciplinary social science student Romee Nicolai (23) is involved in the project and explains. “A lot of my friends can't even fix a flat tire, but it's not complicated if someone just explains to you how to do it.”

Romee Nicolai was born and raised an Amsterdammer, and like many Amsterdammers, cycles all over the city. There are routes she has been covering since childhood—first to school, to friends and later from Amsterdam-West to the Roeterseiland Campus (REC). She also worked as a bicycle courier for more than three years.

Romee Nicolai

That Nicolai has a passion for cycling is partly due to her father. With him, she built her own road bike last year. “You used to buy a bike for life. Now if just one thing breaks, people already trade in their bike for a new model, my father always says. That got me thinking.”


Not complicated

In the context of sustainability, it would be much better if people used their bikes “for life,” or at least learned to repair them themselves. “Because many of my friends can't even fix a flat tire. But it's not complicated if someone just explains to you how to do it.” From that thought, the idea of the Bike Kitchen started: a place in the bike shed under the REC's A-building where students and staff learn to repair their bikes themselves with the help of professionals. Nicolai is working with several UvA students and staff here on the project and is in charge.

“UvA cycling professor Marco te Brömmelstroet had been toying with the idea of setting up a bike kitchen for some time.”

I'm curious, where does the name Bike Kitchen come from?

“Bike Kitchen is an international collective with branches in cities like Barcelona, Berlin and Helskinki. The name comes from Soup Kitchen. At a Soup Kitchen, you can make a meal in a group, for and by people who have little money. Since the Bike Kitchen, like the Soup Kitchen, focuses on repairing bikes together, we gave the initiative that name.”


You set up the Bike Kitchen in collaboration with the UvA. How did that come about?

“During the placemaking course, we worked a lot with people from the professional field. That's how I got to know Suzanne Hansen. She works within the study Computational Social Science as a community-maker. She also works for the REC Impact project on Roeterseiland. I mentioned my side job to her—I worked for a bicycle courier company. We talked about the importance of cycling and how it fits into a sustainable city. Within the UvA, cycling professor Marco te Brömmelstroet, among others, had been toying with the idea of setting up a Bike Kitchen on campus for some time. And because I have such a passion for cycling and this initiative also fits within my studies, I was asked by Suzanne to participate. It is a social enterprise supported by sponsors and volunteers, for and by students."

“If you make something together with people, you make a connection more easily, so Bike Kitchen also performs a social function.“

What is the importance of a Bike Kitchen?

“Coincidentally, I was talking to someone about that the other day. If you make something together with people, then you connect more easily. So Bike Kitchen also performs a social function, especially for international students, because they often don't know many people. Our initiative gives them the chance to get to know their fellow students. The social aspect also includes making people feel good when they fix something broken themselves. In addition, a Bike Kitchen is sustainable. Our initiative ensures that people get more use out of their bikes and learn how to repair their bikes themselves. And cycling is environmentally friendly, too.”


What do you like about it?

“As project leader, I have a lot of responsibility. The leadership role is a position that suits me. In the hospitality industry, for example, I was always a manager and at the bicycle courier company I was responsible for recruiting, hiring and training people. I also like teaching people how to make their own things. People are amazed at what they can do themselves.”


When will the Bike Kitchen open?

“After the Christmas holidays, the renovation of the bike basement will start, with the space being renovated and converted into a bike repair area. We aim to open in March. The plan is for the space to be open three half-days a week, and to have a bike repair shop. Until then, I want to give workshops on the idea of a Bike Kitchen. I will probably also be there three days a week as a point of contact for staff and students. I'm really looking forward to it.”


Are you interested in this or would you like to attend a workshop? Check out the Instagram account. For more information see here.

Foto: Agaath de Vries
During a Bike Kitchen workshop