Public bike repair stands

I was riding downtown a couple of weeks ago and decided to pop my bike up on one of the newly installed public bike repair stands to give it a quick once over:

Old Faithful on a public bike repair stand.

Each of the three stands downtown (plus one more on the university campus) includes a full set of tools for most basic on-the-go repairs and adjustments:

Tools available at the public bike repair stand.

The stands even feature bike repair videos and tips, via a QR code that links to a helpful website.

QR code for bike maintenance instructions on the public repair stand.This is the kind of cycling infrastructure that I love: it’s incredibly useful for both casual and seasoned riders and just sits unobtrusively in the background until it’s needed. The only thing missing from the stand is a pump, which is probably the one tool that would be used the most. Susan Sauvé, a transportation planner at the city, told me via email that pumps were originally included with the stands when they were installed in July, but they all broke within a week. The city currently has more durable pumps on order from the manufacturer and hopes to re-install them soon.

My bike checked out fine on this occasion, but I definitely could have used one of these stands when my pedal broke near Grange Park last year and I needed to conduct some emergency repairs before finishing my commute. It’s good to know that if it happened again today, I’d be just a short 163 km ride away from this stand at the corner of George and Simcoe Streets in downtown Peterborough. The two other downtown Peterborough locations would be a smidge closer, and the one at Trent University a bit farther. The stands were installed this summer through a partnership of the City of Peterborough and B!ke, a local DIY bike repair shop. Oh, you didn’t think these were in Toronto, did you? Doncha know there’s a war on the car here? The last thing we want to do is make things easier for those dastardly bikers.

What's in my repair kit?


I only started cycling longer distances about 8 years ago, after a lifetime of confining myself to Toronto’s streets and trails. Breakdowns weren’t a huge issue in the city because in the worst case, I was always within an hour’s walk of the subway. But as I started riding farther and farther out of the city, it became increasingly obvious that I needed to be prepared for flats and other common bike ailments. This is especially true because my longer rides are almost always solo.

I started with the bare minimum of a patch kit, tire levers, and a pump before gradually adding items based on actual problems that I’d had or encountered other people having. Eventually, I decided to package it all up into a bag that I could just move from mountain bike to road bike. And then I just built up three separate kits: one each for my commuting, mountain, and road bikes. They each have slightly different requirements and it was easier in the end to have dedicated kits for each than to repack a single kit for each trip.

The interesting thing I’ve found about having a kit is that I use it to help others more often than I need it myself. I’ve helped other riders get back on the road from problems as simple as a flat tire and unexpected as loose handlebars. I always stop to ask cyclists at the side of the road if they need help. Even if they wave me off, I’ll frequently hang around until they finish the repair, offering moral support if nothing else.

Let’s take a look inside my kit.

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