UTC students join the Big Bike Fix

The South Leeds Big Bike Fix project has continued to grow and evolve this month. Running since June, the team have now refurbished and donated over 300 bikes back into the local community.

Recent highlights have included: a feature on BBC Look North, conversations with others keen to set up similar schemes across the city and region, a busy 3-day fixing workshop at Greenmount Primary School in Beeston (30+ bikes fixed up for families) – and gifts including cup-cakes, pumpkins, and a card and cash donation from the USA!

The project has also now partnered with UTC (University Technical College) in Hunslet – and this is what Year 11 students Jack, Sam, and Bayley have made of their involvement in the scheme:

Here at UTC Leeds, the three of us, along with a group of students from Year 11, have been supporting the Big Bike Fix, a project where we fix unwanted bicycles and donate them to children and adults who do not own a bike.  By returning the bikes to the community, we are not only leading towards a more sustainable way of living, as they would otherwise have ended up as scrap, but we are also supporting people to access free bikes and have a more active lifestyle.

Following lockdown, we felt that whilst children especially have had a lot more time on their hands, that some of them are not using their time to be active, either through choice or because of financial constraints. Giving young people a free bike incentivises them to get outside and take some exercise, as well as putting a big smile on their face to get a gift, especially if the child is from a less fortunate background.

The Big Bike Fix group meets for two hours every Wednesday during UTC Leeds Soc time, a weekly enrichment afternoon based on a university society model. There are numerous societies to choose from, including Greenpower Soc (where students build an eco racecar) and BamSoc (where students design a renewable park and ride in conjunction with BAM Nuttall). Our Big Bike group consists of a collection of like-minded year 11 individuals who have come together to do something we love – engineering – and to give something back to the Leeds community. We all love using our mechanical engineering specialism to disassemble, fix and repair machines and, in turn, to make a difference to the environment. In an ideal world, Leeds would become the next Copenhagen – one of the leading cities in the world for sustainable energy and low carbon emissions. Recycling bicycles gives us an opportunity to contribute to this vision whilst simultaneously supporting eco-friendly transport options, reducing our own carbon footprint. It is greatly satisfying to fix something that someone thought was worthless and to bring it back to near its former self.

At UTC Leeds, we work with over 70 employer partners from across the region, some of whom have been fantastic in supporting our work on the Big Bike Fix. Leeds Welding company, MPM and R. W. Cook have donated to us powder coat paint so that we can refurbish the bikes to look like new. The Big Bike Fix team have fixed up hundreds of bikes since June, and we are really proud to be contributing to increasing this number each week.

To find out more about the scheme, or get involved, find ‘The Big Bike Fix South Leeds’ on Facebook, or call Ed Carlisle on 07738 921 277. Unwanted bikes, spare parts, or wheels are always welcome, as are cash donations (the service is otherwise free), and also volunteers who are happy to help fix the bikes up; note that the team are practising Covid-safe systems in their workshops. As well as refurbishing old bikes, the team are also able to service and fix bikes that local residents bring to them.