Bikeworks is an enterprise that first and foremost wants to empower people and make cycling inclusive. It has expanded from its HQ in Bethnal Green to now having two other sites in London – Leyton and Shepherd’s Bush.
Founded in 2006, Bikeworks runs a large range of projects with the aim of getting more people cycling. Firstly, It has its shops that sell a great range of products as well as new and second hand bikes. With the inclusivity mission at heart they are aiming to dispel an image that too many people have of bike shops and mechanics – that they are inaccessible and intimidating. Bikeworks aims to avoid this by consulting their customers and explaining exactly what needs doing to their bikes and why.
As well as selling and fixing bikes they are committed to teaching people bike maintenance. There is a re-use centre that takes second hand bikes and fits them up to sell again. In this huge workshop at the Bethnal Green site they also run twice-weekly sessions for members of the public to fix their own bikes. People get to use stands and tools to get their bikes working perfectly, with mechanics on hand to offer help and guidance.
They run a training centre attached to the service centre where people can qualify to be bike mechanics as well as take bike maintenance classes. This is open to and used by anyone, including underprivileged young people, former drug addicts and homeless people. Their aim is to get properly trained bike mechanics working in London regardless of their background.
Finally, they run external projects like Doctor Bike and sessions to get people with physical and mental disabilities cycling. They train people to ride on the streets and on the track and go to schools to provide training to kids to ensure that the future generation of cyclists have good road sense and keep on cycling.
The amount of work that Bikeworks carries out to encourage cycling in a huge range of communities is absolutely fantastic. In fact, there is no doubt loads more that could not be fitted into this review. From the outside, the branches of Bikeworks may seem to be normal bike shops. Step inside and get chatting to the staff and you may well be on your way to becoming a bike mechanic!
Bikeworks in their own words
We deliver our mission through a variety of community cycling programmes including employability for disadvantaged groups, all ability cycling, bicycle ReUse & recycling, schools cycle training and much more. As a business we provide cycling services to both consumers and organisations.
Our stores offer a full range of repair services, sale of new and refurbished bikes and cycle maintenance courses from beginner to professional level.
Bikeworks business services can help make your organisation a cycle friendly workplace including services such as in work repair services, team building events and more.
Bikeworks was registered as a company in September 2006, began trading in 2007 and opened its first premises in Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets in the spring of 2008.
The founding partners developed Bikeworks because they saw the strong potential for cycling to make a positive difference to the lives of people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Jim Blakemore and Zoe Portlock put together a business plan, secured some funding and began delivering a range of community based cycling. At the same time Dave Miller was developing a similar cycling focussed social enterprise in the same area of London.
After meeting up Jim and Dave decided they could achieve more by working together and so there was a ‘marriage’ of two start-ups out of which grew the successful organisation operating today. Both Jim and Dave still lead the organisation on a day to day basis as Co-Managing Directors whilst Zoe is Chair of the board providing strategic support & direction alongside the other directors.
In its short history Bikeworks has already achieved a significant amount making a positive difference to the lives of many thousands of people, winning numerous awards and expanding the reach of its work across the capital including the opening of further training centres
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