Council donates bikes to Oxford homeless charity

Oxford City Council has announced it will be donating abandoned bikes to charity Broken Spike Bike Co-op, in order to provide homeless citizens with ‘practical skills’ and greater ‘ownership’ of their lives.

The bikes provided by the council will be used by Broken Spoke in partnership with Crisis Skylight Oxford, a charity for homeless and vulnerably housed people around the city.

The charities will provide free Build-a-bike courses, which aim to instruct participants in bicycle-maintenance and repair. Participants will be able to keep the bikes at the end.

As many as 119 abandoned bikes were removed from around Oxford by council officers last year.

Ellie Smith, from Broken Spoke, said, “Not only are we diverting abandoned bikes from the waste stream, we’re also giving Oxford residents an opportunity to learn practical skills and take direct ownership of how they get around.”

The partnership between Oxford City Council and Broken Spoke has been described as “fantastic” by councillor John Tanner, board member of a Cleaner, Greener Oxford. He said, “We work hard to make sure [abandoned] bikes are not causing a hazard or cluttering up our streets, and now we are thrilled to be able to put these unwanted items to even better use to benefit the local community.”

News of the partnership comes as the government announces plans to spend £94 million in England to improve road conditions for cyclists. Oxford is to receive £0.8 million of the cash injection, with the council planning to spend the funds on improving The Plain, one of the city’s busiest roundabouts. The current scheme will reduce the width of the circulatory passageway in an attempt to further improve the safety of the roundabout for cyclists and pedestrians.

Prime Minister David Cameron has voiced his desire to incite a “cycling revolution” after British success at the Olympics, Paralympics and Tour de France, stating, “This government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up”.

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Professor David Cox, chairman of the cycling charity CTC, added, “We now urge MPs of all parties to speak up for cycling in Parliament in September, calling for the funding needed to transform Britain’s streets into a continental-style Cycletopia.”

Oxford is well-known for its cycling culture, and the City Council is working to improve conditions for all cyclists, hoping that 20% of journeys to work will be made by bike by 2021.