Volunteers help residents back on two wheels with free bike maintenance scheme

A service providing free bicycle repairs for residents in Cherwell has been rolled out across the district.

Published: Tuesday, 2nd June 2020

Dr Bike is a Cherwell District Council initiative, aimed at helping people to get back on two wheels. The programme was piloted through the Healthy Bicester partnership and fully booked sessions have now taken place in Banbury, Kidlington and Bicester, with the help of volunteers from Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club, Kidlington Cycle Club and Bicester Green.

Cllr Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing said: “Dr Bike embodies several of the council’s key objectives. Encouraging residents back onto two wheels will bring great health benefits as well as having a positive effect on mental wellbeing. It also contributes to cleaner air and reduces our carbon footprint, something we made a key priority when declaring a climate emergency last autumn.”

“This week is Volunteers Week and we are indebted to the hard work of the teams at Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club, Kidlington Cycle Club and Bicester Green to get this service into gear!”

The first district-wide appointments took place on Saturday (30 May) with all the slots reserved within hours of going live. Due to COVID-19, an online bookings system was put in place, giving people an allocated time to drop off and pick up their bikes, ensuring social distancing guidelines were followed. Personal protection equipment (PPE) was also provided to everyone working on the scheme.

Celia Cornforth, centre manager for Bicester Green said: “Over the last few weeks, there’s been a surge in people digging out their older bikes, looking to use them as an everyday form of transport. Unfortunately, they might not always be in tip-top condition. That’s where Dr Bike comes in. Our trained mechanics will give each bike a service as well as providing basic repairs for free!”

Celia continued: “We have been running Dr Bike for the last year but COVID-19 has given us a new set of challenges to deal with. The team have worked extremely hard to put in place new measures, ensuring social distancing can take place and I am particularly grateful to our mechanic, Jim Tanner, without whom Dr Bike Bicester wouldn’t be possible.”

Further sessions are planned over the coming weeks, with Dr Bike returning to Banbury this Saturday (6 June) at Hardwick Community Hall. Residents in Kidlington and Bicester can book in for Saturday 13 June at Exeter Hall and Bicester Green.

Appointments can be made online via Cherwell’s eventbrite pages with adverts made across social media. Follow @cherwelldistrictcouncil, @healthybicester and @K5BetterTogether on Facebook for the latest. Families signed up to Cherwell’s FAST programme will be sent an email ahead of time, giving them priority access to the service.