On Brekkustígur, in western Reykjavík, there is a cycle workshop where refugees and asylum seekers are invited to come and fix up old bikes, which they can then keep for personal transport.
The project is a cooperation between Cycling Iceland, the Red Cross, Sorpa waste management, the City of Reykjavík and the Icelandic Mountain Biking Club and welcomes asylum seekers and refugees to take part in community based cycling projects. The workshop is open every Monday and Wednesday.
“Our role is to make Iceland cycling friendly, so we enthusiastically do projects that can support all kinds of connections to cycling. When we realize that there is a large group of people in the country who maybe don’t have much, are not well connected and are even isolated in their homes, then I just know that cycling is a great solution,” says Sesselja Traustadóttir, the director of Cycling Iceland.
The project has performed better than anyone expected so far, and many people have taken advantage of it, Vísir reports.
“This group is especially vulnerable. They may not have work permits, for example, and are in great danger of social exclusion. That’s why this project has gone very well so far and is very popular. In fact, there is even a waiting list to come here onto these small premises,” Sesselja says.
Þórir Hall Stefánsson from the Red Cross believes that by making it so that people need to come and refurbish the bikes themselves, they are given a better sense of ownership than if they were simply given a bicycle—adding that by having a project to work on, people have a focus.
Despite this, project managers are grateful that Kex Hostel gave the project six new bikes last week.
Those new bikes will be used to teach women who come from countries where it is unusual for females to cycle.