Free wheels open doors for families

FOR A new Bendigo-based community group, a bicycle has become more than just a two-wheeled piece of metal.

FreeWheeling Fun offers renovated bicycles to people in need for free. Currently, the group has a waiting list five families long.

TAFE Bendigo community development teacher Ben Shue started the FreeWheeling Fun in September last year after he developed a passion for involving the community in bike activities.

"It was ride to work day and I wanted to know what people here at TAFE were doing for ride to work," he said.

Mr Shue said the group formed naturally from word of mouth.

"We met together and I asked everyone why they were interested in cycling," he said.

"Now, each month we meet at the Bendigo Farmers Market to do up bikes we get donated.

"We get the bikes from word of mouth - people at the market talk a lot about what they have sitting in their sheds."

The group falls under the Bike Bendigo umbrella and fulfills the groups aim to promote Bendigo as the bicycle capital of regional Australia.

Mr Shue said the group serviced a broad range of people in need.

"We have people who need a mode of transport," he said.

"We have kids in single-parent households with bikes their only mode of transport.

"We have kids who need to get to school and we look after the health and fitness side of things."

Mr Shue said improving accessibility to bicycles encouraged family bonding.

"There is also a deeper level of helping people make more connections in their community," he said.

"If they make friendships and improve their support network then when life does kick them in the guts they have the group."

Mr Shue said the group was in constant need of donations.

For more information on the group, contact Ben Shue on freewheelingfun@gmail.com