How and where to recycle your bicycle (or buy or earn a refurbished one)
A growing number of bicycle recycling schemes across the country are harnessing the social and economic power of the bicycle, raising money for charitable work or collecting bicycles for dispatch to the Developing World. Laura Laker finds that most of these bicycle recycling schemes also empower disadvantaged people, whether through skills sharing and confidence building or simply by providing affordable transport.
Recycles • Swindon
Recycles is a social enterprise run by people who have experienced homelessness and is supported by The Salvation Army. Recycles can professionally repair or service bicycles at competitive rates and sells refurbished bicycles, too. The shop is open Wednesday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm. Tel: 01793 401834. Recycles is also linked into by Re-cycleyourcycle, a web-based initiative with volunteers in Kent, Herefordshire and South London.
Bike Hub at RE:SOURCE • Bodmin, Cornwall
RE:SOURCE is a furniture recycling social enterprise working as part of the national drug and alcohol charity: Addaction. Bike Hub is the bicycle recycling section of RE:SOURCE. The bikes are worked on by a team of bike maintenance students and volunteers. Tel: 01208 265 943.
Open Shed • Penzance, Cornwall
There can’t be many bicycle recycle places where you can also get help refurbing your laptop? Open Shed is a non-proﬁt worker cooperative providing ‘hack space’ for members to meet, work, code, and build things. There’s a ‘Bike Kitchen’, an electronics lab, a conference and activity room, and an AV suite. Oh, and a cafe, too (with free wifi). The Bike Kitchen is open on moﬆ Saturdays from 10am to 3pm. It’s a self-help bicycle maintenance and repair workshop with ‘bike ninjas’ on hand to help people tune up their gears and repair punctures. During the week Open Shed members can use the Bike Kitchen’s tools. “If you have old or unused bicycles we will accept them as donations and this will help to add to our inventory of spares parts. In some inﬆances where the bicycle is in reasonable condition, we will use them for training repair bikes or repair them and ask for a small donation for those who need a bicycle for getting around town or down to coaﬆal path or promenade,” says the Open Shed website. Tel: 01736 367516
Bath Bike Workshop • Bath
Recycles bikes and provides work experience for vulnerable community members, especially those who have experienced homelessness. Sells second hand bikes for adults and children, with a kids’ bike trade-in scheme available. Tel: 07922 326590.
Life Cycle UK • Bristol
Life Cycle’s recycled bikes are repaired and cleaned up by prisoners thanks to a partnership with HMP Bristol, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Qualified mechanics safety check all bikes, and sales are held in the city centre. Life Cycle also runs cycle maintenance classes as well as offering cycling training. Tel: 0117 353 4580.
Emmaus • Bristol
Supports a group of former homeless people through their recycling/reuse project in Bristol, including repairing and selling recycled bikes. Tel: 0117 954 0886
Jake’s Bikes • Bristol
A not-for-profit second-hand bike shop selling reconditioned used bikes, with a 6-month warranty. All bikes get photographed and listed on the website as soon as they are ready for sale. Cash or part-exchange available for second-hand bikes of reasonable quality. Also provide one-to-one tuition for anyone who wants to repair or recycle a bike of their own. Tel: 0117 329 7363
Bristol Bike Project • Bristol
“We aim to help people from all walks of life get out on two wheels and for it to be an inclusive and empowering experience,” says the website for the Bristol Bike Project. The project supports people with mental health problems, learning difficulties and those in recovery. On Tuesdays & Fridays, between 10am-5.30pm, the project sells used bikes at affordable prices. Bikes donated to the project are refurbished and given away as part of a Earn-a-Bike scheme or sold to raise funds. Bike donations can be made Monday-Friday between 9am – 5pm and on Monday evenings between 5pm–8pm and Tuesday and Thursday evenings between 7pm-10pm.
Black Environment Network • Swansea
Collects, refurbishes and repairs donated bikes for asylum seekers, refugees and those on low incomes. BEN also runs training courses, route advice and led rides for newcomers, with an emphasis on encouraging ethnic minorities to get involved. Tel: 0207 9214339.
Recycle Newport • Newport, South Wales
Takes in bikes to refurbish; bikes are either donated to community groups or sold to the public. Volunteers are given cycle maintenance training and often a free bike; the centre also runs cycle training. Tel: 01633 277324 or 07982 567788.
Cycle Mania • Risca, South Wales
Cycle Mania is a community cycle project set up by a group of young people in Risca. It runs a bike maintenance workshop from Waunfawr Community Garden and also offers bike maintenance courses for the community. The Cycle Mania team renovate bikes and either use them for bike hire or donate them to the community.
London Re-use network
Collect household items, including bikes, for re-use and resale, from Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Lambeth. Bikes must be in good condition or in a repairable state. Collection charges apply. Tel: 020 3142 8506.
Wandsworth Youth Offending Team bike recycling project
Bring bikes to their Alma Road Training Centre, SW18, 5-8pm on Thursdays. Bikes are reconditioned by young offenders and given to victims of crime. Tel: 020 8871 5571 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bikeworks • Shepherds Bush, Bethnal Green & Ladbroke Grove
A social enterprise aiming to tackle environmental and social challenges at community level. Recently launched Cycle into Work programme, a community investment programme supported by Barclays which improves employability of disadvantaged youngsters through skills development in cycle maintenance, and mentoring. Also provides bike hire and cycle tours. Shepherds Bush and Bethnal Green locations are community cycle stores; Ladbroke Grove is a mechanics’ training centre. Tel: 0208 980 7998.
Re-Cycle Solutions UK • London & Sussex
A minimum of 50 percent of the profits generated by Re-Cycle Solutions UK goes directly to charity. The remaining 50 percent of the profit is returned to the scheme to fuel expansion. The chosen charity in 2011, and again this year, was Cyclists Fighting Cancer, which provides bikes, adapted tricycles and equipment to children and young people who have been affected by cancer.
Leftfield Bikes • South West London
Leftfield Bikes collect unused bicycles from all South West London addresses and these are sent to Re~Cycle, see below.
Recycling • Elephant & Castle
Recycles 95 percent of the bikes they receive. Most bikes come from local authorities or police recovery, some by donation or part exchange. Sell repaired bikes seven days a week from their workshop, with ‘try before you buy’ available. Tel: 020 7703 7001.
Recycle-a-bike • Uxbridge
Recycles and refurbishes discarded or donated bikes. Provides volunteer work experience and services bikes. Aims to achieve charitable and City and Guilds training status. Tel: 07985 484184.
Union Cycle Works • Deptford
“We make beautiful bespoke bikes for people and at the same time we work with disadvantaged people from diverse backgrounds,” says the website for Union Cycle Works. Based in an old railway arch off Deptford High Street, the project is a not-for-profit co-operative, open every Saturday from 9.30am to 1.30pm. Union Cycle Works is an associated partner with The Margins Project, a homeless project based in North London. “We are always very grateful to receive donated parts and bicycles at the project. These are really important for us, as cleaning and servicing old parts is the best way for our volunteers to learn and develop their skills. We especially love old and vintage parts, as these normally last forever after a bit of TLC and elbow grease. It’s brilliant if people can drop stuff to our space, but we have a cycle trailer and can come to you if its tricky to get to us.”
Action Bikes – branches across London
Collects and ships to Africa bikes for national charity Re~Cycle from their five Central and South West London shops. Bikes can be donated directly to Action Bikes shops.
Kingston Eco-op • New Malden
The bike recycling workshop is open to Kingston Eco-op service users on Tuesdays and Fridays. There are a maximum of five places available each day. The workshop is linked with Kingston Cycle Campaign and the Royal Borough of Kingston’s Travel Awareness Department. The session has skilled support from a trained bike mechanic. Reconditioned cycles are available for sale. Tel: 020 8942 5503.
Recycling Bikes • Waltham Forest
Refurbishes donated bikes, train volunteers on Fridays and Saturdays, and sell bikes on the first Saturday of each month 1-3pm. Public drop-in maintenance sessions on the third and fourth Saturday of the month 11am-3pm. Workshop number: 07948060473 (Fridays and Saturdays only)
Wondergears • Brent, London
WonderGears was set up in the summer of 2012 and works with the homeless men and women from housing association Riverside-ECHG’s housing and training centres at Crown House in Kilburn and Livingstone House in Willesden in the North London borough of Brent. WonderGears provides training and future employment opportunities. Tel: 0208 9630545
Southend ReCycle Centre • Southend
Southend ReCycle Centre has drop-off points around the town, refurbishing donated bikes and selling them at low cost. The Leigh-on-Sea centre is open Tuesday-Saturday. Sales take place Thursday 4-8pm and Saturday 9.30am-2pm. Tel: 01702 215003.
Necessary Furniture • Hersden, nr Canterbury
A community partnership redistributing donated bicycles – and furniture, the clue is in the name – for disadvantaged community members. Service charge is required of users. Necessary Furniture also provide work experience. Tel: 01227 712680.
Re~Cycle • Colchester
Founded by Merlin Matthews (that’s his real name), Re~Cycle is the UK’s biggest and best-known bicycle recycling charity. It receives abandoned bikes reclaimed by councils and the police, as well as those donated by members of the public, and sends them to Africa where they provide transport for those who would otherwise spend significant time walking to reach essential services and resources. Re~Cycle also refurbs the strong and trusty delivery bicycles that were once a mainstay of the Royal Mail’s postal delivery fleet. Re~Cycle also has a drop-off point in Cambridge. Tel: 01206 863111.
The Bike Man • Cambridge
Recycles bikes to sell to the public. Offers six month guarantees on refurbished bikes. Bikes can be dropped off five days a week for recycling. Also sells second hand parts and frames. Tel: 07747 591744.
OWL bikes • Cambridge
Opportunities Without Limits, or OWL, provides vocational training and opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people, also running an annual bike harvest in June, encouraging students to donate, rather than abandon, their bikes at the end of term. Re-sells bikes to students to raise funds. Tel: 01223 835329.
Cranks • Brighton
A volunteer-run DIY bike workshop, Cranks provides tools, space and maintenance advice to those wanting to fix their own bikes as well as recycling unwanted bikes to sell for £30-£60. Cranks also runs a Bike Hospital on Brighton’s streets. Tel: 01273 693 477.
Bicycle Recycling • Gosport
Bicycle Recycling is a community cycle centre that operates on a not for profit basis and encourages cycling in the area. The centre accepts and collects donated bicycles from the local area and reconditions them for resale to the local community. The centre services and carries out repairs using recycled parts where possible to keep costs down. Bicycle Recycling also provide opportunities for young people in association with Motiv8, a charity that engages with young people and supports them in accessing better life choices. Young people can get hands-on experience in a bicycle workshop and gain a recognised certification in bicycle maintenance. Bicycle Recycling is a Velotech Accredited Training Centre. Tel: 02392 601441
Hub & Spoke • Harlow
Hub & Spoke is run by people with lots of different cycling interests and backgrounds, from qualified cycle mechanics to ride leaders, workshop tutors and trainers to volunteers. The facility is open every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 4pm to handle bike maintenance repairs, cycling enquiries for training and courses and to accept donated bikes. Tel: 01279 431333
Spokes • Kidderminster
Offers young people with learning difficulties opportunities to learn bicycle maintenance skills. Sells second hand bikes and offers repair services as well as refurbishing scrap, donated and abandoned bicycles. Also works with a local college to teach employability skills to young people, and teaches local schoolchildren, and excluded and disadvantaged children, maintenance skills. Tel: 01562 861154.
Coventry Jesus Centre Re-Cycle • Coventry
Receives donated bikes and provides work experience and training in repairing them. Open on Wednesdays, and on volunteer availability. Tel: 07909 384020.
Coventry Recycled Cycles • Coventry
Recycles bikes, parts and tools. Re-sells bikes, as well as offering a referral scheme to those who genuinely can’t afford a bike. Run by a passionate bike fixer hoping to encourage cycling as an affordable means of transport, and improve people’s ability to repair their own bikes. Tel: 07788 673632
Coventry Peace House • Coventry
Renovates bikes from recycling projects and donations for re-sale in the community to promote cycling and provide affordable bikes. Currently looking for volunteers with cycle maintenance skills. Open on Tuesdays and alternate Saturdays. Tel: 02476 664616
Bikes4All • Leicester
Recycles bikes from donations, both private individuals and corporate sponsors. Offers bespoke training and activities to the community from a team of qualified mechanics and trainers, while selling or donating bikes to those on low incomes. Tel: 0116 2420800.
Back2Bikes • Stafford
Charity which relies on donations and aims to make use of every donated bike. Provides training and work experience for volunteers. With an online catalogue, Back2Bikes delivers across the UK with a minimum £10 p&p fee. Tel: 01785 257483
Action 21 • Leamington
Recycles bikes that would otherwise go to landfill, providing training and work placements. Also provides Dr Bikes for events for a nominal fee. Bikes go on sale 10am seven days a week. Money generated helps sustain the charity’s other work. Currently looking for volunteers. Tel: 01926 886438.
Birmingham Bike Foundry • Birmingham
A workers’ cooperative promoting cycling as well as recycling discarded or donated bikes. Runs a workshop and tool club on Thursday nights available for £10 per year as well as maintenance courses. Tel: 0121 459 7276.
Cyclechain • Birmingham
Reclaims, repairs and sells salvaged bikes as well as providing support through training and confidence-building for disadvantaged community members, including those with visual impairment and those recovering from mental health problems. Provides affordable bikes to schools and university students. Tel: 0121 357 0643.
Urban Cycles • Birmingham
A social enterprise restores and rebuilds donated bicycles. Tel: 0121 327 6951
Gear Up • Birmingham
A social enterprise run by young people, Gear Up runs Bikeability cycle training sessions as well as selling recycled bicycles. The enterprise is based on the Bromford and Firs Estate, one of the most deprived places in the UK.
Bolton Alternative Transport Bike Recycling Project • Bolton
With the aims of promoting and developing cycling in Bolton, bikes are recycled and salvaged wherever possible. Works alongside other community groups to provide training and refurbished bikes, with council funding and government grants. Open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 09.30-17.30.
Cycle re-cycle • Bradford
Recycles bikes from Bradford’s refuse sites as well as from donations, providing young offenders and the unemployed with training and work experience. Bikes are given to volunteers who have renovated bikes, socially disadvantaged people, or sold to raise funds. Also runs training courses and a chargeable bike surgeon sessions in the area, and hires stands for DIY repairs. Currently looking for volunteers. Operates in Bradford, Halifax and Kirklees. Tel: 07835 840989
York Recycling Network • York
Not-for-profit community interest group recycling bikes from five waste sites in North Yorkshire as well as donations. Services bikes and runs training workshops including get to know your bike and roadside repairs, as well as apprenticeships. Also has a showroom. Open Mon-Sat 07.30-18.30; Sunday 09.00-18.00. Tel: 01904 733789
Recyke Y’Bike • Newcastle upon Tyne
Accepts donated bikes, which are sold to fund the project and to send bikes to Africa via Re~Cycle. Part time staff and volunteers help encourage community involvement and the promotion of cycling.
Tel: 0191 265 4197 or 07737 526020.
Recycle Bikes • Heeley, Sheffield
In 2011 social enterprise Recycle Bikes received 379 donated bikes, of which they sold 227 and donated 138 to Re~cycle. Some of these would otherwise have ended up in landfill. The shop runs training for 14-16 year-olds and evening maintenance courses, led rides, as well as selling ‘recycled’ bikes, servicing and repairing. Tel: 0114 250 7717.
Do It By Bicycle • Stockton
Based at The Hub, Do It By Bicycle refurbishes donated and retrieved bicycles and donates them to job seekers and students. Some are also sold, for £30 or less.
Bike Stop • Darlington
Bike Stop is run by homeless service charity First Stop. Unwanted bikes – no matter what condition – are collected, refurbished and then sold in First Stop’s shop in Skinnergate, Darlington. Bike Stop is a social enterprise, teaching homeless participants cycle mechanic skills and supporting them to run a cycle repair business. Tel: 01325 371793.
Re-Cycle Engineering • Leeds
“We’re the last shop in the north of England which provides reconditioned bikes as a core activity,” says the website for this walk-in workshop. Tel: 0113 274 5229
Pedal Power • Lancaster
Accepts donations as part of the Furniture Matters project, strips down and rebuilds bikes and sells to the community via its Furniture Matters shops. Also offers bike maintenance sessions. Tel: 01524 426622
Cycles Recycled • Stockport
A community interest company taking in bikes from across the North West, reusing parts and refurbishing bikes and selling them on to the public. Also provides bike maintenance training and sells used parts. Runs Cycle-4-Smoothie sessions in schools, using a bike powered smoothie maker. Accepts volunteers. Tel: 0844 854 8808
Pedal MCR • Manchester
A community project offering maintenance and cycle training, both on a one to one basis and in groups, with bike hire as well as a bike recycling arm. Runs pedal-powered cinema in summer, while an open workshop on Saturdays allows people to fix their own bikes. The Earn A Bike scheme allows those on limited incomes to build their own bikes from salvaged parts. Tel: 07931 457 808.
Community Can Cycle • Glasgow
Runs a bicycle repair service for local children and refurbishes and sells donated bikes to local low-income families from £10-£30, with an instalment option available through a local credit union. Tel: 0141 630 1015.
Common Wheel • Glasgow
A charity providing meaningful activity for people suffering mental illness, through maintenance and repair of bicycles. These are then sold to the public in one of their two Glasgow branches, or occasionally offered via trade-ins. Sales support the charity’s work. Tel: 0141 946 0777 or 0141 550 3854.
The Bike Station • Edinburgh, Glasgow & Perth
One of the UK’s largest bike recycling organisations, taking in 30,000 bikes in six years. Sells second hand parts and runs ‘fix your own bike’ sessions, where stands can be hired for people to work on their own bikes. Edinburgh store works with local schools as well as the local prison to supply second hand bikes. Sales of adults and kids bikes take place daily in Edinburgh and Glasgow; Saturdays only in Perth (Fridays for kids’ bike sales). Perth: 01738 444430; Glasgow: 0141 248 5409; Edinburgh: 0131 668 1967.
Gorbals Recycles – Re-spoke cycles • Glasgow
Offers refurbished bikes, a repair service and a range of accessories and parts, as well as building bespoke bicycles. Tel: 0141 429 1466.
Recyke-a-Bike • Stirling
Refurbishes bikes that would otherwise be thrown away, and sells them to the community. Runs maintenance courses and services. Can collect donated bikes. Closed on Wednesdays. Tel: 01786 447559.
Bikeworks • Fife
Organisation with charitable status, aiming to promote cycling in the area. Offers maintenance courses, recycles and repairs customer’s bikes and provides employability training. Tel: 01592 774837.
Cycle Stop & Connect • Dundee
Social enterprise with the aim of creating employment opportunities for the long-term unemployed. Bikes are donated by the public or salvaged by the police and civic amenity sites. Bikes are sold to the public from £25-£75. Tel: 01382 322331.
BeCycle • Aberdeen
A community project, entirely volunteer run, refurbishing donated or abandoned bikes to sell to the public; also offers free workshop space with tools and stands with assistance and advice from staff. Also offers bike rides and a free bike lending service.
Aberdeen Cycle Forum
As well as recycling bikes, the Forum provides a mobile Dr Bike service including on-site servicing for workplaces, and organised rides on alternate Saturdays and Sundays. Also campaigns for better cycling conditions in Aberdeen. Tel: 01224 489955.
Black Bridge Bikes • Inverness
A social enterprise with regular sales of refurbished bikes for adults and children. Reuses bikes locally, accepts bike parts and runs maintenance courses. Tel: 07833 346592.
Grean ReCycle • Golspie, Sutherland
Refurbishes bikes that would otherwise go to landfill. Grean welcomes people to come and learn bike maintenance as well as servicing bikes using trained mechanics. Doorstep collections are available for repairs, and bikes can be returned once mended. Tel: 01408 634253.
Bike Aid provides cycle repair kits in locations where cyclists might need them. Bike Aid kits contain basic tools, patches and pumps and are hosted in public places as a courtesy for whenever a cyclist needs to make emergency repairs. The ambition of Bike Aid is to grow a self-sustainable network of kits hosted at shops, cafes and pubs. The scheme’s logo signifies that the host welcomes cyclists. The kits can also contain information on nearby bike shops. Currently Bike Aid has been trialled in Suffolk but founder Nat Bocking believes the idea could go nationwide.