A group of young people from the Selly Park/Stirchley area have started Birmingham Bike Foundry, a worker co-op with the aim of bringing the health, environmental and transport benefits of cycling to more people. They are all keen cyclists, who hope to bring elements of vibrant bicycle cultures from other major cities like London and Manchester to Birmingham, while creating engagement in their community and worthwhile employment for themselves.
Birmingham Bike Foundry runs as a not-for-profit, worker controlled co-operative with two main strands of activity. Firstly, they take on donated, unwanted bikes and refurbish them for resale. This means fewer bikes going to waste and more affordable two-wheelers available to the general public. If you have any bikes or parts going to waste in the shed, don’t bin them: let Birmingham Bike Foundry give them a new lease of life. City dumps encourage discarding of bicycles – the sign which identifies the metal bin at one of our waste centres actually has an image of a bike on it. However, most bikes can get out on the road again in no time with a bit of attention from a skilled mechanic. This is far more environmentally friendly than being melted down or, even worse, ending up as landfill.
The second strand of Birmingham Bike Foundry’s work is training. Their aim is to create more confident cyclists who are not stranded by basic technical faults, so they offer courses at all levels in both cycling skills and mechanics. Classes vary from beginners’ basics to more advanced skills like wheel building. Their trained staff are evenly split between genders and in an effort to support female cyclists – who are fewer in number and statistically more at risk on the roads than male riders – they offer women only classes and rides.