With temperatures dropping and snow falling in Winnipeg, a group that set out to flood the city with bikes as Winnipeggers looked for something outdoorsy to do during the early — and warmer — months of COVID-19, is switching gears.
As bike shops across the city began reporting shortages in the spring, the Plain Bicycle Project opened a pop-up shop to distribute hundreds of used bikes the group brought over from the Netherlands by shipping container.
Now that it’s cold out the group is using their space — the Bicycle Garden at 267 Sherbrook St. — to rent out winter equipment like cross-country skis and snowshoes using a sliding rental scale.
“We’re focused on building spaces and places for human mobility,” explained Jenny Sawatzky, who helped organize the Plain Bicycle Project and is now project coordinator for the group’s winter endeavor.
Called the Icicle Garden, Sawatzky says the idea is inspired by a community centre in Finland where winter equipment is available to be borrowed.
The group began scouring thrift stores and collecting donated winter equipment in the fall and now has a library with more than 60 sets of skis, snowshoes, snowboards, and even a few pairs of downhill skis up for grabs. There’s also a set of wheel blades, for wheelchairs and walkers, adds Sawatzky.
The project is part of Winnipeg Trails, a group that works to build and groom winter trails throughout the city.
Anyone looking to get out and enjoy the outdoors can borrow the equipment by either donating whatever they can to the cause, or, taking them out for free if they can’t afford to make a donation.
“Those who can afford it will see that their money goes towards supporting trail building and ski access this winter, and those that can’t get to make the most of winter,” said Sawatzky.
“That’ll give opportunities for everyone to enjoy winter.”
The group is still looking for more donations, especially child-sized ski boots and snowshoes.
To donate or book equipment for rental, go to plainbicycle.org.
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