The Bristol Bike Project, which overhauls unwanted bicycles and passes them on to good causes, has enjoyed a highly successful first year.
The scheme was opened in one of its founders’ back garden last December with just five bikes. It now has its own workshop in Stokes Croft and has just given out its 150th bike. And it’s gone from being a two-man operation to a true community effort.
James Lucas, 28, who set up the scheme with his cycling friend Colin Fan, told BikeRadar: “It’s evolved hugely, it’s blown up. A lot of people have become involved and it’s taken on its own momentum.
“The project is all about being totally inclusive and not financially motivated, which is very important. People are passionate about being involved and giving their time, and it really is buzzing at the moment.”
James decided to launch the project while he was teaching English to asylum seekers at a refugee centre in Bristol. He realised how difficult it was for them to get about, as they were housed outside of the city centre and couldn’t afford to use public transport.
He said: “We’re now working with mental health groups, drink and drug rehab groups, and some women who are exiting street work.
“We’ve just started working with some younger people too. We’re hoping to set up an after-school workshop. The idea is to get them out of that cycle of crime by getting them involved in something they might be excited by.
“We do 50 percent of the overhaul – things like the bottom brackets – then the groups we are working with come down and do the other 50 percent with us, and at the end of the afternoon they can take the bikes away. We’re helping people to help themselves.”
James said people could help by donating unwanted parts and bikes – either to be overhauled or sold to help the Project pay the rent on its premises. The scheme also needs volunteers, and ideas for workshops: “We’re trying to encourage as much participation as possible.”
As for the future, James said: “Eventually I’d love to see the Project open 24/7, with people in there doing things all the time and learning new skills. Getting more workshops going in the evenings is a really important thing for us now.
“I’ve always cycled as a way of getting round the city but I went up to Snowdonia with Colin a couple of years ago and that really reignited my passion for cycling. I want to give other people that opportunity.”