Background to the programme
A group of friends decided to make the bike a real tool for exchange and sharing by founding Opti'vélo. The initiators of the project are convinced that providing a clean and practical mode of transport through workshops is a good way to access responsible transport while also creating social bonds. In 2013, they forged links with the ESAT (Support Services and Institutions through Work) and the CCAF (Christian Collective for Fraternal Action). In November 2014 (month of Social and Solidarity Economics), they opened the self-repair workshops that mix the public.
Objectives of the programme
- Empower the beneficiaries through manual labour and the transmission of know-how
- Helping people in difficult social situations to create social links
- Give these people access to mobility
- Make the CCAF better known and change the way we often look at homeless people by giving them an educational or advisory role
- Make the bike repair activity of Esat Elisa better known
- Increase the technical nature of the mobile workshop with more specific skills possessed by Esat for electrically assisted bicycles.
1) Every Monday afternoon Opti'vélo installs their workshop-truck on the CCAF car park in Chelles, located in the city centre. The association provides the tools and dispenses advice on how to repair bikes.
> Bicycles and unattached parts are collected by volunteers of the association, often from individuals who no longer have a use for them or who keep old broken bicycles.
> The workshops are open to all but particularly affect people who take advantage of the welcome day on Monday afternoon at the CCAF, homeless people. They then participate in the reconditioning of bicycles and are then able own them. These workshops are also an opportunity to share the knowledge acquired from week to week with participants outside of CCAF.
2) Opti'vélo also regularly organises mobile workshops for individuals or works councils, for example, as a service.
3) Opti'vélo aims to expand the self-repair workshops as it has already done in Lagny-sur-Marne.
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
5 months after the start of the programme:
- 15 users of CCAF attend workshops every week
- 30 people outside of CCAF have come to the workshops
- 20 bicycles have been reconditioned and given to those who repaired them.
Reduction of waste: with 10 bikes recovered, 7 have a second life and 3 enabled spare parts to be retrieved to repair other bikes.
Qualitative approach, based on feedback from CCAF staff and ESAT Elisa:
- Extract from the CCAF activities’ report: "Every Monday in the courtyard, the association Opti'vélo offers mutual assistance with repairs that helps to restore confidence in DIY skills. It has also offered several bicycles to CCAF users who, as everyone knows, travel several kilometres from their squats to places of solidarity."
- Excerpt from an email of ESAT Elisa: "For the public who benefit in Esat, the bike workshop is a very popular monthly outing that is anticipated and experienced as a positive experience, equally by accompanying teams. The fact that people with disabilities learn to perform bike maintenance from the general public confers a particular value to these workshops in the eyes of the public."
This initiative mixes the general public with local social actors. It combines the social link, mobility and ecology. The bike and manual work are used as a means of valuing individuals.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
Partners in Chelles: the mechanic workshop in Esat Elisa, the CCAF welcome day, Credit Mutuel Agency in Chelles and Union of friendly tenants
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
- Have a local "home base" available to welcome the members, disassemble the bikes, but also to store items for the mobile workshops.
- Recruit new active volunteers to avoid exhaustion
- Obtain €10,500 of co-financing to activate the balance of the investment grant received from the General Council be of 77 before December 2015. For the association to function, it is necessary to collect €8,500.
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
- The storage of parts was done at volunteers’ homes. Today a cellar of 4m² is leased from a social landlord MC Habitat and premises of 6 m² is temporarily lent to us by an individual.
- A request to the town hall was made for a grant and central premises behind the market in Chelles.
- Other requests for funding to the MACIF Foundation and the Ile-de-France region are in progress.
Suggestions for future improvement :
- Operational improvements: expand the public involved by opening the workshops at another time in the week (including Sundays)
- Development of activities: Opti'vélO requires resources to develop the following program of activities:
1- Mobile self-repair workshop on board a cargo-bike to make cyclists more autonomous
2- Expansion of the bicycle self-repair workshops in Seine et Marne to meet the needs of the region.
3- Creation of a fixed workshop and a bicycle recycling plant in Chelles to enable poor people to obtain an economic and low polluting mode of transport. Many bikes are abandoned due to a lack of knowledge of how to restore them.
4- Creation of a school-bike to help users of all ages get in or get back in the saddle
5- Creation of a mobile advice service to support communities and businesses interested in advancing the active model.
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
- Do not follow the “help” approach, very common in actions dedicated to people without homes. Work on empowering and self-image.
- Combine utility and friendliness in an activity
- Diversify the partners