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Bicycle Links: recycling cycles in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 10:03 24 April 2018

Lucy Hall and the team at Bicycle Links (photo: Denise Bradley)

Lucy Hall and the team at Bicycle Links (photo: Denise Bradley)

Archant

How a small Norfolk social enterprise is working to boost cycling

Cycling has enjoyed a massive boom since 2012 when Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France and Olympic gold. Many of the new wave of riders are Lycra-wearing weekend warriors punching out big miles on sporty bikes, but there has been a ripple effect as more and more people look to two wheels as regular transport.

Around the time that Sir Brad was lighting up the Champs Elysee, a cycling new business venture opened in Norwich. Bicycle Links, a community interest company, was the brainchild of Lucy Hall and Jason Smith.

“We started trading in 2012,” says Lucy. “I was volunteering at a project called Not About the Bike and my colleague Jason was tutoring there; he was being paid to show people how to recycle bikes.

“We had seen projects that were happening around the country and felt there was room for this particular project here.

“We registered the company with three social aims, which have been pretty consistent. Number one is recycling bikes, so they get more use. Number two is to encourage more cycling locally as sustainable transport and number three was to provide an opportunity for people to learn skills, volunteering and using bikes to engage people who have been disadvantaged in some way.

“Those aims have stood us in pretty good stead.”

It’s fair to say that Bicycle Links has had a significant effect; over 3,300 bicycles have passed through their doors for recycling. What happens to the bikes depends on the quality and condition of the machine.

Many are given a new lease of life by the team of volunteer and trained mechanics who fettle the bikes to showroom order for sale in the shop. Some are broken up for parts and a few that are beyond salvation end up in the metal recycling bin.

Additionally Bicycle Links offers cycling services to the wider community; it offers a repair service, it hires bikes, operates a loan scheme in partnership with Norfolk County Council where people thinking about buying can ride a bike for a month without commitment, and has loan machines for students.

It is also crowdfunding a scheme called Welcome Wheels, with has the aim of providing every refugee and asylum seeker in Norwich with a bike, helmet, lock, lights and cycle training.

Visitors to the well-stocked shop, which caters more for the cycling-as-transport customer rather than sports riders, can also browse some fancier machinery from the Netherlands and iconic British brand Raleigh.

What’s next for Bicycle Links? “I think it could be time for electric bikes,” says Lucy.

Two wheels good

Bicycle Links welcome donations of bikes and components at their Norwich shop but they are unable to collect.

Full details on all their projects can be found at bicyclelinks.org.uk

Bicycle Links CIC

135 / 137 King Street, Norwich NR1 1QH

01603 63119 info@bicyclelinks.org.uk

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