Re~Cycle near to shipping 100th container of bikes to Africa

Colchester-based Re~Cycle ships refurbished bicycles to projects in Africa and has been doing so since 1998. Secondhand bikes are cleaned, fettled and sorted for shipping to Africa in containers. Sometime in the new couple of weeks Re~Cycle will reach the magic number of containers: 100.

Re~Cycle is a registered charity and is run by Merlin Matthews, the charity’s founder. 36,000 bikes have been shipped to Africa to date. Re~Cycle also supplies tools and spare parts so the bicycles can be maintained locally.

Re~Cycle has also helped create bicycle ambulances for Namimbia. Re~Cycle’s work – including the ambulances – can be seen in this new video:

Re~Cycle works with organisations such as the Bicycle Empowerment Network in Namibia, and Ability Bikes of Ghana, a co-operative helped into existence by US organisation Bikes Not Bombs.

Re~Cycle can accept donor bicycles from a number of ‘hubs’, including London and Newcastle as well as Colchester. To find a hub close to you, there’s a postcode search tool on the Re~Cycle website.

British bicycle businesses have donated many bicycles to Re~Cycle although the largest single donor has been the Royal Mail, which had a program of supplying ex-delivery bikes to Re~Cycle. Supply of these robust Mailstar bicycles, made by Pashley of Stratford upon Avon, slowed up in 2007 but now that the Royal Mail is massively scaling back its ‘posties on bikes’ service, Re~Cycle fears it will be inundated with thousands of Mailstars. When the supply from Royal Mail was in the tens and the hundreds, Re~Cycle could cope, but with thousands of Mailstars expected to be trashed by the Royal Mail, Matthews said the “mad-cap scheme to stop using bicycles” would create a surge that Re~Cycle would find hard to deal with.

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