Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Bristol Bike Project Transforming Lives

One Street's Social Bike Business program and our accompanying book Defying Poverty with Bicycles encourage the creation of bicycle community centers where everyone feels welcome. Such places are rare because attempts often derail toward idealistic elitism (read more in this post) or toward profits without regard to who is served (read posts labeled bike industry).

So when we find a great model, we've got to share it. The Bristol Bike Project even emphasizes keeping used bikes in their community in their tagline - something we encourage instead of shipping them overseas. Learn all about them on their website.

This article introduces the Bristol Bike Project including great photos of their work in action:

From Huck Magazine, Pivot Points: Stories of Change
Posted Wednesday 21st June 2017, Text By James Arthur Allen

Bath-based photographer James Arthur Allen learns a valuable lesson in the power of community from a project.

Stokes Croft in the city of Bristol has long been a hotbed of creativity and activism: a microcosm that retains its independent roots even in a time of increased gentrification and development. Nestled under the Banksy-adorned Hamilton House, an otherwise standard five-storey office block, lies the Bristol Bike Project (BBP), a workshop-cum-bike shop that sells second-hand steeds and offers maintenance courses.

But BBP is no ordinary bike pitstop: people who walk through these doors never really leave.

Founded in 2008 by James Lucas and Colin Fan, the project has grown into a full-time enterprise that supports and equips vulnerable groups in the local community through the humble bicycle. At the core of the project is their Earn-a-Bike programme, set up so that people from all walks of life – from asylum seekers and at-risk youth, to anyone living on the margins – can learn basic mechanics and earn a bicycle in the process: there are no hand-outs here.

BBP operates as a not-for-profit workers’ co-operative with a flat structure of pay. “All profits are channelled back into our volunteer-run programme,” says James, who also founded Boneshaker magazine as an outlet for his two-wheeled passion. “The programme is inspired by the Chinese proverb: ‘Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.’”

Co-founder James Lucas has long believed in the transformative power of bikes.

This philosophy leads to a hustle and bustle that doesn’t limit itself to staff. On a sunny day in early June, Julien and Big Al, both experienced bike mechanics, are running the Fix-a-Bike session, overseeing volunteers at six busy work stations. Customers, volunteers and users of the project rub shoulders as they work alongside one another, talking bikes and life, exchanging skills and advice, and generally having a laugh.

Read more and see all the great photos in the original article here.