Can a bike change the world? Well, maybe not on its own, but when access to a bike can help change life after life, it just might! Since 2008, The Bristol Bike Project has changed thousands of lives by repairing and rehoming bicycles within the community of Bristol in England.
Early on, The Bristol Bike Project quickly illustrated that when we help the most vulnerable people in society find some firm footing to stand on, we have the power to change communities! They started out helping asylum seekers over a decade ago. Now, in collaboration with over 50 organizations in and around Bristol, their programs have grown to support people in need of transportation from all walks of life.
Here’s a look at the impact two wheels can have and how each of us can share our skills and passions to create a ripple of change!
The Power of a Bicycle…
Bicycles are one of the most empowering tools out there for those in need of transportation. Around the world, they help people get access to education, jobs, and even healthcare. When a motorized vehicle or access to public transportation is too expensive, complicated or impossible, a bike can be the best way to get around.
It was this idea that struck James Lucas and Colin Fan, the founders of The Bristol Bike Project. As they saw asylum seekers in Bristol in need of affordable transport, they took their bicycle know-how and decided to put it to good use, helping people get access to bicycles of their own.
So, they partnered with Bristol Refugee Rights and put up posters looking for unwanted bicycles. As they fixed up and rehomed new bikes, they quickly realized that they had struck upon a great need in their community. And so, The Bristol Bike Project was born; an organization on a mission to empower marginalized members of the Bristol community through the power of bicycles!
At the heart of the organization is their Earn-a-Bike program, where people in need can learn basic mechanics to fix up a bike of their own to take home. Since 2008, over 2,100 bikes have found new homes this way!
We’ve got a beautiful short film to share with you! It takes a look at the Earn-a-Bike program and the lives it has changed.
Millican has sponsored some great short films featuring individuals and organizations with unique stories having a positive impact on the world. If you’d like to check them out, go take a look at their Vimeo page.
More than just a bike…
Earn-a-Bike is just one of The Bristol Bike Project’s many amazing programs. They also offer after-school classes where young people ages 8-18 can get their hands dirty and work with The Bristol Bike Project’s volunteers and staff to learn DIY and mechanics skills!
A central part of The Bristol Bike Project’s spirit is its dedication to the community. In many of the communities they serve, feelings of loneliness and isolation are very prevalent. So, to combat this, they started Social Cycle: a way for people to get their dose of “Vitamin C (Company)” and have a place to feel connected and accepted. 2 Over tea, a chat, and a little tinkering, people from all walks of life are able to support the organization and each other.
Here’s a lovely video from The Bristol Bike Project with a little look.
“When we get to the end of the project, everybody has achieved something…it’s just a case of delivering what people need from us.”– Chris Taylor
Is there a better metaphor for connection and empowerment than a Bristol Bike Project bike?
Not only do these bikes connect new riders to old, but they also connect riders to a more independent future, a community of supportive people, and new doors of possibility. It’s not a complicated process; it starts with reusing what we have, empowering people with knowledge and along the way, and restoring our connection to each other’s shared humanity.
If you’d like to support their work with a donation, please check out their donation page!
Conspiracy of Goodness!
Imagine if there were more projects like The Bristol Bike Project out there?
What could you or I do to easily help? Well, it turns out there are quite a few organizations you can get involved with. If you have an old bike to donate, want to volunteer with a local organization, or just share your know-how, a simple google for “community bike projects” or “bike donation” in your area is a great place to start!
We all have ways we can give back to the communities around us! Whether we know a thing or two about bike mechanics or have a fabulous mashed potato recipe to donate to a local shelter, our unique skills are the perfect way to donate our time and energy.
So go ahead, get out there. Find a community that feeds your soul that is doing some good in the world. Together we can change the world for the better.
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
- Millican. “A Meaningful Journey | Connection.” Vimeo, Millican, 8 Apr. 2019, vimeo.com/329059190. Accessed 7 Jan. 2020. ↩
- The Bristol Bike Project. “The Social Cycle – Bristol Bike Project.” Bristol Bike Project, 2018, thebristolbikeproject.org/community/the-social-cycle/. Accessed 7 Jan. 2020. ↩
- The Bristol Bike Project. “Tea & Tinkering.” Vimeo, The Bristol Bike Project, 4 July 2018, vimeo.com/278330673. Accessed 7 Jan. 2020. ↩