Bikes for all: London based cycle enterprise Bikeworks, sees cycling as a sustainable urban transport that can help tackle economic, social and environmental issues in and across London. Mark Sutton investigates how this is achieved and finds out about its ‘inclusive for all’ cycling promotion...


Tell us about your business/organisation model:
We are a not-for-profit social enterprise and a community interest company, which means our work has a strong community emphasis. All profits are channelled back into the business in order to create more cycling opportunities for the local community. Bikeworks promotes ‘inclusive cycling for all’ and works to get beyond the ‘usual suspects’.

Bikeworks operates as a community cycle hub providing cycle training (Bikeability) to children and adults in East London. We specialise in disability cycling, cycling for health (GP referred patients who will benefit from the exercise) and the business also handles bike recycling (second-hand /refurbished bikes), accessories sales and bike repairs.

At Bikeworks we also operate a professional development work-based learning programme for formerly homeless individuals, leading to qualifications as cycle instructors and/or bike mechanics (City & Guilds). The programme has been extremely successful since starting in January 2009, with eight out of 24 participants starting the three-month programme moving into paid employment.

We provide other services including Dr Bike, cycling promotion and consultancy with large companies. Recently, we have secured a contract for a new bike hire scheme on the green way overlooking the 2012 Olympic site.

What are the short and long term ambitions of Bikeworks?
To use the bicycle as a vehicle of change. Short term, to get more people cycling, both adults and children and to develop more innovative ways to reach those who choose not to cycle. These can include dedicated programmes for mums on bikes, or for those with mental health problems. In the long term, we are looking to expand with a view to replicate the Bikeworks community cycling hub model in other areas of the UK. Bikeworks aims to continue to be a one-stop-shop for cycling with a friendly supportive face to help remove the barriers that may be restrictive to those new to cycling, disabled cyclists, or those on a tight budget.

How are you tackling environmental concerns?
We have a particular emphasis on bicycle recycling whereby bikes are donated by the police, local authorities and the public and are then refurbished for sale. This helps keep abandoned bikes from landfill and extends the working life of a bike significantly. We’ve refurbished over 1,000 bikes in the past twelve months, so that’s about 15,000 kilos of steel and aluminium that’s getting another lease of life.

Spare parts are kept for future sale as they’re useful for second-hand components to make repairs for the public more affordable.

How much of the business revolves around the workshop?
Roughly 20 per cent of our income comes from the workshop. Work is carried out in-house by our team of four mechanics.

Does freelance fleet repair bring much income to the business?
We have recently won the tender for bike repairs for employees working in the Olympic Park in Stratford, London, building on smaller existing contracts. So far, this remains a small aspect to our business, but one we expect to grow going forward.

As a not-for-profit organisation, where is revenue channelled?
All profit is channelled back into the business to facilitate growth, develop new cycling initiatives and support sustainability.

How are the mechanics trained?
Our mechanics that service customers’ bikes are Cytech level three trained and trainees on Bikeworks ‘cycle into work’ programme. They’ve all obtained a City and Guilds qualification in mechanics.

Do you have a rental scheme?
Currently we don’t rent bikes to the general public, but we have a fleet that can be used by adults who are undertaking Bikeability training or those referred by their GP (Primary Care Trust). Our new bike hire service for public use at the Olympic site will be available shortly.

Telephone: 020 8980 7998
Founded: 2006
Owner and MD: James Blakemore and Dave Miller
Opening times: Mon to Thurs 09.00 to 18.30, Friday 09.00 to 17.30, Saturday 10.00 to 17.00

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