Saturday, 31 December 2011

Oil company provides bike aid stations

Photo: Mads Odgaard
Suffolk Bike Aid learned from the cycling blog of a pilot scheme by Norway's Statoil that provides facilities for cyclists to fix their bicycles at five petrol stations in Copenhagen, a city where 55% of the residents cycle every day. The sign says:

"Dear Cyclist,
You can care for your bicycle here. You can pump and wash your bicycle and, inside the shop, you're welcome to borrow a free bicycle care kit with oil, tire levers, allen keys, etc.

The pilot stations in the Copenhagen area are: 

  • Sydhavns Plads 10, 2450 København SV
  • Godthåbsvej 144, 2000 Frederiksberg C
  • H.C. Ørstedsvej 25 - 27, 1879 Frederiksberg C
  • Valby Langgade 119, 2500 Valby
  • Kongevejen 205, 2830 Virum
Statoil would like to know where to put the next 'bike care' stations. Send them an email at

Statoil don't operate any UK petrol stations but are a huge natural gas supplier to the UK and are presently developing the Sheringham Shoal wind farm 17 km off the coast of Norfolk.

While Statoil should be applauded for this bold innovation, Bike Aid demonstrates that there's no need for cyclists to wait for capital investment by PR-hungry polluters. For every petrol station to stock a puncture repair kit, provide air and loan tools for the use of cyclists it would cost about £2 per site. 

Bike Aid notes that there is growing unease in Norway for Statoil's sponsorship of the arts. The education / arts / activism organsiation Platform recently said on their blog:

"...extraction-hungry oil and gas companies use sponsorship to purchase a central position at the core of social development and cultural growth, to enhance their reputation and cover up their dirty practices elsewhere. The cultural sector has been mostly been compliant, but this has to change. 
...These companies have massive amounts of money at their disposal, and the “generous” amounts they offer the cultural sector through sponsorship are mere trifles as far as their own accounts are concerned. For the cultural sector, on the other hand, these amounts are enormous, and we see an enormous amount of hesitation of speaking out for fear of losing the economic support. 
Sponsorship thereby becomes more than just a cheap marketing strategy; not only do they greenwash the unethical practices of these companies, they also place a significant proportion of our creative and resourceful young people in a position of gratitude and servility to the oil companies, purchasing a place at the heart of our culture, education and sports."
Therefore we think evidence of their commitment to change their practice by supporting cycling facilities would be more welcome. This incidentally is why Bike Aid does not seek any funding from anyone, though it welcomes any from those prepared to give. We don't ever want to fear speaking out against any kind of sponsor should we feel the need to do so.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bike Aid kits on a budget


There are many sources of material to provision Bike Aid kits. Our first suggestion is to re-employ spare tools and patches widely found unused in cyclists' sheds however we have noticed that 'pound' shops and major supermarkets now stock cycling accessories. A recent visit to a 99p Store and Poundland found similarly equipped kits at their eponymous prices so we are confident that both a puncture repair kit and a pump can be purchased for less than than the cost of a large latte in chain coffee shops. Poundland's pump fits both kind of valve and their pump and patch kit with levers and wrench can both fit neatly inside a 12" x 2" mailing tube.

We are asking Poundland if they'd like to donate some pumps and patch kits to make demonstration kits which we can take around.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Holton Cycling Evening

Cycle Suffolk  presents a Cycling Evening at Holton Village Hall on Thursday 19th January 2012 from 7 to 9 pm.

Admission free, all welcome – just turn up to join in with Virtual Watt Bike racing, get a bike check, watch a presentation on a South East Asia cycling trip, meet your local cycling club, find out more about local rides and learn how to recycle your old tools into ‘Bike Aid’ kits

For further information, please contact Joseph Young on 01394 444590 / 07920 861819 or

Holton village hall is at IP19 8PL, 3/4 miles east from Halesworth

Holton, adj Orchard Valley
Buses from stops nearby:
Stop ID: sufgwpmd

Host Profile: Light Electric Vehicles

Europe's finest ebikes all under one roof... the promise of LEV based in Leiston, Suffolk. Established in 2004 by motor racing engineer James Fitzgerald, Light Electric Vehicles is the UK's longest established ebike specialist.

At LEV test rides are FREE. You're welcome to whiz up and down the road outside their 450m2 showroom, but Dutch and Swiss quality do not come cheap and you need to be sure of your purchase, so they would prefer you to go further a field: Much better to take one of their demo bikes out for a morning or afternoon and explore the surrounding country lanes and coastal bridlle paths. You can bring a friend, take a picnic, make a day or a weekend of it!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Plans for new cycle route through Millennium Green

National Cycle Route 1 and the International North Sea Cycle Route pass through Halesworth and make a significant contribution to the local tourism industry although it is widely considered that at present the full potential of cycle tourism for this area has not been fully developed. This proposal is for a completely new access for the Town from the south consisting of over 1 km. of off-road route bringing cyclists right into the heart of the Town through the scenically attractive Millennium Green.

The present NCR 1 enters the Town from the west on the busy B1117 from Chediston and with the one way restrictions on Chediston Street it diverts through the Church Farm housing estate. Not the most attractive or welcoming approach to our Town. The new route provides a relaxing traffic free entrance to the Town, a fantastic local recreational facility providing opportunities for excellent safe links to various parts of the Town for cyclists, walkers, wheelchair and buggy users. You can read the full project outline hosted here.

This is provisionally costed at £150,000. The initial response from the planners is good and we now need to contact the Environment Agency to discuss issues relating to the flood plain and Waveney about the route through the Park – oh and find £150,000

Friday, 28 October 2011


Suffolk Coast and Heaths is a quarterly free sheet distributed widely in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It has seen fit to feature the bike aid scheme for which we're very grateful. Get your copy here.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Host Profile: The Electric Transport Shop

Suffolk Bike Aid encountered the charming Eddie Kehoe with his Ebike Roadshow at the HinT event "Watts, From Where?" recently held in Halesworth. The founder of the UK's longest established electric bike shop enthusiastically grasped the Bike Aid concept; realising that any no-cost infrastructure to support cyclists must be a good thing.

Within a few hours, notice came that all the Electric Transport Shop locations in London, Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford will be hosts to Bike Aid. Naturally anything more than the loan of a wheel nut spanner and pump and their encouragement of your DIY repair would have to be charged for. The company provides buyers of some commuter models free cycle-rescue insurance from ETS but Bike Aid will be available to any cyclist, electric or not, calling in and needing assistance.

All their shops offer a wide range of electric cycles to test-ride and full after-sales services as well as being child-friendly and have a customer toilet, free beverages and somewhere to sit.

Each branch has its own phone number where helpful, enthusiastic people like Eddie await your call 7 days a week. Please visit their highly informative website to find out everything about electric bikes and lightweight electric transport.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Bike Aid going global at Velo Village 2012

Salt Spring Island: Fulford Valley from Mount Maxwell
Bike Aid activist Nat Bocking recently visited the Canadian Pacific coast and Salt Spring Island. This community of 10,000 people on 182 square miles of verdant mountain forests and lowland pastures could be favourably compared to Totnes in England as it too is renown for organic agriculture and forward thinking: the Gulf Islands - Saanich district recently elected Canada's first Green Member of Parliament Elizabeth May.

While at Salt Spring's Fall Fair, Nat met with John Rowlandson, coordinator of the 2012 Velo Village, a forthcoming three-day celebration of rural mobility solutions. Next June thousands of cyclists will go to Salt Spring to experience bicycle heaven-on-earth with fun and competitive rides, kinetic sculptures, bicycle cinema and musical performers bookending a one-day rural mobility solutions workshop on June 22nd. Participants will see and hear how people are addressing the challenges of rural riding and set an agenda 
around key themes of families, safety and connectivity between city cyclists and their country cousins.

John wrote: "I love the whole bike aid kit idea. It's an awesome way to anticipate the 'what if' problem for entire populations of new and experienced cyclists." He added: "the BikeAid program gives a hint at what rural communities are doing to improve the quality and pleasure of rural riding."

Suffolk Bike Aid is offering a presentation to Velo Village as either a paper or a short film and there is a link to Bike Aid on their website. Velo Village extends an invitation to the cycling community in England (and the rest of the World) to come along and for delegates from outside BC who can't bring their own, Velo Village will provide cycles to use on Salt Spring.

Salt Spring Island bus with a passenger-operated double bike rack
British Columbia is an outdoor pursuits paradise and commute and recreational cycling is well catered-for on Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands. The island has a Bicycle Working Group putting together joined-up thinking such as bike racks on BC Transit buses (a facility as yet unheard of in the UK). Travel to Salt Spring from the UK is much easier than you might think; besides the three scenic ferry routes, there are usually 12 float plane flights a day from Vancouver to Ganges Harbour.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Halesworth Wheel Cycle Ride, Suffolk

Join in this family-friendly Fresh Air Miles ride. This will be a fantastic circular ride around Halesworth on Sunday 4 September.
To take part in the ride, come along to the Thoroughfare end of Middle Car Park in Halesworth between 10.30am and 2pm.

The route is approximately 21 miles long and is accessed by following 'spokes' radiating out from the town. The spokes allow you to complete as much or as little of the route as you like. The route incorporates National Cycle Network Route 1 into one of the spokes on the north side of Halesworth and crosses it again on the southern part of the route. A map and instructions will be available to all taking part. The route passes four 'Bike Aid' locations.
You are welcome to follow the route at your own pace and there will be marshals on hand around the course providing help, advice and stamping your Fresh Air Miles registration cards.
Sustrans marshals will be at The Thoroughfare until 4pm to collect registration cards and enter participants into the prize draw.

For more information email or call ride leader Mike on 01986 872750.

Official event updates will be posted on the Sustrans site.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Dunwich Dynamo XIX

Besides the Latitude traffic on the A12, people in Suffolk ought to know there is a large cycling event on this weekend in Suffolk 16/17 July 2011 which isn’t officially organised and has very little publicity but it could see over 2000 cyclists leaving London on Saturday riding 120 miles through the night to Dunwich. 

This will be the 19th ‘Dunwich Dynamo’ where people just turn up in Hackney and ride to the coast from 8pm onwards. I like to think this is because of our natural herd instinct and demonstrates how we are capable of mutual trust and support. One cycle club organises coaches and removal vans for the journey home but many riders catch a train or just turn around and cycle back.

Route map thanks to GPX file by @adrianfitch

View Dunwich Dynamo 2011 in a larger map

As the route mostly goes through rural Suffolk, it may be useful for people to be aware that there will be a lot of tired and wobbly cyclists on the roads late at night and early Sunday morning and that any courtesy and encouragement people can give them is welcome. 

Another cycle club sets up a feeding station in the village hall at Sible Hedingham where last year it served over 2000 bacon butties and over the years, other impromptu stalls have popped up in Suffolk offering cakes, soup and coffee etc. This is the kind of civic generosity that the Suffolk Bike Aid scheme knows exists. Though there has, at times, been harassment of cyclists from yobs, this has been successfully dealt with by the police.

This year at least one rider will attempt it on a Boris Bike raising money for homeless charities. Previously an ice cream cart and a penny-farthing have made it successfully. 

It’s quite impressive and somewhat eerie to see Dunwich Beach at dawn on Sunday littered with the bodies of exhausted cyclists. Although the Flora Tea Rooms on the beach opens at 4 am for them, the queue soon becomes a very long wait. Now local businesses are waking up to this friendly invasion; the nearby Ship Inn will be open early and the café/post office at Yoxford is offering a shuttle service to a full English and a head start to the train at Darsham.

This year's Dynamo will also be very poignant for many of the regulars as a principal actor Barry Mason died very recently while on holiday in Spain.
Next Dunwich Dynamo is the night of 30 June - 1 July 2012

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Bike Fixtation

The model of offering the public free bicycle repair facilities keeps getting tweaked and improved. Readers of this blog have alerted us to Bike Fixtation.

Now in two locations in Minneapolis, USA, Bike Fixtation offers free tools and air with a stand of the type that is proliferating everywhere (well,  Cambridge MA and Fresno CA so far) as well as a vending machine that ideally is stocked with cyclist-useful items like patch kits, energy bars and so on.

This is wonderful but it is more complicated and quite an investment in floor space for the host over the Suffolk Bike Aid method and so demands traffic to justify it, but nevertheless, we hope it succeeds and we expect investors anticipating a return will drive their roll-out faster than our model.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Host Profile: The Wissett Plough

The Wisett Plough The Street Wissett Nr. Halesworth Suffolk IP19 0JE

Debbie & Nick Sumner purchased the Wissett Plough in April 2007, first serving drinks and food. In April 2009 they opened a village shop at the rear of the pub stocking basic items and locally produced products. Food is availabe every weekday from 12 noon to 2 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm. On Saturdays and Sundays they serve food all day from 12 noon till 9 pm. There is also a take-away service for fish and chips and burgers and sausages.

Menu favourites are home cooked ham, scampi and chips with a choice of garden or mushy peas and beef and pork dishes from the award-winning Sotherton Farm. Fish is delivered fresh from Lowestoft. Other food and fruit and vegetables are all sourced locally. A daily specials board varies according to what is in season. 

Freshly ground coffee, tea and hot chocolate available throughout the day. 

Tel: 01986 872201

Host Profile: The Rumburgh Buck

Mill Rd, Rumburgh, Halesworth, Suffolk, IP19 0NT Tel:  01986 785257

The Rumburgh Buck is a 16th century village freehouse with a wealth of history. Approximately 3 miles west of Spexhall off the A144 between Halesworth and Bungay, and is a traditional pub serving excellent home-cooked food and superb ales in a very cosy atmosphere. Sympathetic and tasteful extensions and refurbishments have added a number of  interlinked areas around the historic core. This is one pub that has not forsaken the local community which it serves with folk evenings, quiz nights and other popular events. The Buck is listed in the Good  Beer Guides and is in CAMRA’s Regional Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. It was also voted CAMRA’s Suffolk Pub of the Year 2007. It has been listed in the Good Beer Guide every year since 2004.

The bar is well stocked with a choice of local real ales from breweries such as Green Jack, Nethergate, Brandon, Grain and of course Adnams amongst others. Home cooked lunches and evening meals are served seven days a week from noon to -2 pm lunchtimes and 7-9 pm evenings.

The pub is home to many music sessions by groups such as Bodgers Mate, JY Kelly, Twisted Routes and Loose Marbles and once a month on the third sunday evening it holds an open music session called Rumfolk. The Buck is also very fortunate to be the home of Rumburgh Morris and The Old Glory Molly Dancers who both perform in the car park; Rumburgh Morris during the summer and Old Glory during the winter months.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Bristol Community Bike Workstations

Suffolk Bike Aid is very pleased to learn that long before us the city of Bristol set up a scheme a bit like our own which we weren't aware of before. However, if anyone wishes to compare the schemes, we would like to point out - as we have done elsewhere - how subtle differences can be crucial to this idea's effectiveness.

Their model appears to be that councils will provide something at public expense and administrate the allocation of it, with all the attendant costs, whereas Suffolk Bike Aid enables self-funded, inexpensive, independent and positively uncontrolled local provision.

In June 2008 Bristol was named the UK's first Cycling City with public investment of over £22 million to enable unprecedented levels of innovation, involvement and creativity in cycling.

Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils are leading on the Cycling City project, working with Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset councils to promote cycling across the region.

The Cycling City project can provide portable workstations for use in communities across Bristol and they are inviting interested individuals and organisations to apply for them.

Applications from people living in communities where incomes are low and support for bike maintenance is poor are a priority.

The bike workstations contain a comprehensive set of bicycle tools, a bike stand and a track pump.

Naturally the council wants to ensure all this kit is well looked after and properly used.

They would also really like to see neighbourhood-based 'Bicycle Action Groups' who can champion cycling in their area and bring the bike workstations to community events or street parties.

On the other hand Suffolk Bike Aid anticipates that the inexpensive or practically free buy-in of our model means that businesses, small groups and kind individuals can provide Bike Aid stations immediately and so will declare themselves de-facto cycling champions of their building, street or village.

We don't mean to detract from Bristol's effort. It's a great idea to enable youth clubs or other groups to provide cycle maintenance or repair as an activity but for those who might compare Bike Aid to their scheme, we'd like to be fair to both sides to point out the differences as we don't see how that strategy can encourage cycling by reducing any reluctance to cycle because of the inconvenience of breakdowns although it has an important place in realising other outcomes.

Presently you can find the workstations in Bristol at:

Kingswood Foundation

Blenheim Scouts

Railway Path: Easton

Southmead Adventure Playground

The Bristol Bike Project

More info

Monday, 4 April 2011

Free's know-how

International bike blog Bike Radar reports that California State University Fresno has also recently installed two self-service bike repair stations on their campus. 

Judging from the pictures, these look identical to the Cambridge MA repair stations - but are painted a fetching red instead of zinc galvanised - so this is idea is evidently catching on, driven, I presume, by the bike stand's manufacturer.

Fresno's stations are located in front the University Student Union near the university dorms. These spots were chosen both for the security of being popular areas and because of the expected demand. If they're right, the university said it may install more stations in the future.

The school’s Alternative Transportation Fund paid for the program, according to Amy Armstrong, a public information officer with the California State University, Fresno Police Department.

“We plan on monitoring the use of the stations and expand the program if we see a high volume of use,” says Armstrong. “If this program increases the number of bikes on campus then it is definitely a success and worth the investment.”

Prior to the installation of the do-it-yourself repair stations, the only place on campus to repair a bicycle was in a shed in the plant operations agriculture yard. This shed was only open at times when a student was actually available to man it, so the two stations are already being seen as a bonus for students with bikes.

According to Bike Radar, these stations cost around $1000 each. 

Suffolk Bike Aid would like to inform anyone considering such a scheme in the UK that each of our Suffolk Bike Aid stations costs about £9, or $17 USD to purchase retail but zero cost if created by recycling old tools and a cardboard mailing tube.

I have spotted other models of 'free' bike repair stations on the web. This model (left) is found in Florida, USA.

However, a feature none of these stations appear to have is the provision of puncture repair tools and patches and glue. I find that omission surprising, considering these stands are supposed to be inspired by a scheme started on the MIT campus. Have America's brightest minds forgotten something?

These stations are ideal for a quick tune-up before or after a ride but they aren't going to get you out of trouble from the most common component failure on a bicycle; the vulnerability of the tyres to sharp objects like tacks, glass and cactus spines. Ideally, these stands would be outside a public place that could supply puncture kits, either for sale or pro-bono, on the Bike Aid model.

My issue with all the security measures built into these stands is that they are counter-productive to the ethos Suffolk Bike Aid aims to promote. If you say to someone "hey, this stuff is valuable" by chaining up something relatively trivial as a spanner, some people will feel challenged to steal it. 

Self-serve stations like this also don't give people a chance to interact; where human contract creates implicit trust, as well making it easier to identify any thief. Such opportunity for that human contact will lead to conversations and sharing of information, which then builds social capital. £1000 (as any price in dollars costs the same number of pounds in the UK) would buy a lot of spanners that the occasional jerk might pocket from a  Suffolk Bike Aid kit. But if those spanners were branded with a promotional message from a sponsor, the taking of them might even be encouraged.

Some entrepreneurs have tried to 'monetize' this evident demand for bike repair stations. 

A patent for a bike station and inner tube vending machine was filed with the US Patent Office in 2003 by one Richard Cofflet of Colorado. No evidence is found yet if one has actually got to market.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Free Bike Repair Stations in Cambridge.... USA

Wired, the journal of high-tech innovation, reports that free bike repair stations have been installed by the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cambridge Transportation Program Manager Cara Seiderman said  “It’s a way of supporting and making it easier for people to bike".

The stands provide tire gauges and pumps, Allen wrenches and a few other tools that enable cyclists to adjust seats or handlebars.

Each station cost the city about $1,000 and Seiderman said the city got the idea from MIT which has already installed repair stations around its campus. No word on whether you get a puncture repair kit which is the most common problem cyclists encounter. If they remember to bring theirs, they usually remember to bring a few tools as well. According to a city press release, these stands are for fixing a low tire, a loose chain, or a wiggly handlebar.

I wonder why the city didn't consider the no-cost provision model of Suffolk Bike Aid rather than going to the expense and trouble to install fixed facilities but I thoroughly applaud this innovation. Perhaps the bike-friendly UK namesake will do so too? 

You can find the 'Fixit' stands on Google maps

View Bike FixIt Stand Locations in a larger map

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Host Profile: Sotherton Farm Beef

Just outside Halesworth on the route of the Halesworth Wheel and just before Strawberry Lane, the turning for Westhall, is Sotherton Farm, famous with locals and foodies for its home-made pies and beef.

The Sotherton herd consists of traditional beef breeds; the Simmental and Angus cattle graze on rich water meadow glass on the banks of the River Blyth. A well fed and contented herd ensures a wonderful flavour.

The farm shop offers high quality pork and beef matured for 28 days and butchered on-site as well as great value meat, hams, pies, bacon and salt beef from animals born and raised on the farm.

One of the farm workers is a keen cyclist himself who has been known to cycle to work from Bradwell near Yarmouth!

The Bike Aid Kit is kept at the shop. Opening hours: Monday - Saturday 9am - 5pm

Sotherton Farm Beef
White House Farm
Sotherton, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 8NW
01986 873123

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Host Profile: Racehorse, Westhall

Westhall is one of Suffolk's very special places. The dipping, twisting and confusing single track road to the village frequently deceives car tourists; diverting them through a crack in the space/time continuum onto Brampton or Beccles unawares. A myriad of quiet lanes surrounding this 'mystery spot' are popular with walkers and cyclists.

Village life is very active and hasn't yet reached the tipping-point caused by second-homes. The villager's pantomime and other festivities are legend.

Cyclists and walkers can easily reach Westhall by rail from Brampton Station on the East Suffolk Line and Sustrans National Cycle Route One passes nearby offering a couple of miles car-free cycling to Halesworth across a former WW2 airfield. Look out for the dragon house and some other treats only those who venture there can discover.

The Racehorse
Westhall, Nr Halesworth,
Suffolk IP19 8RQ
01502 575706

Photo by Peggy Cannell

Friday, 4 February 2011

Host Profile: Yoxford Post Office

Late in 2012 we heard that Carl Bennett had sold his business to a publican Adrian Straatman and his partner Annabelle who now operate the Yoxford Post Office and Tea Room. We hope the bike aid kit remains in place but at the moment we haven't been able to confirm this. The host profile below remains as historical record until we can update it.

Sole Bay Cheese Co

For years Carl Bennett was getting up early and setting out his stall at Suffolk's many food markets to sell fine cheeses until the thoughts of a warm and cosy shop with a coffee machine that stocked a larger selection of great cheeses, pies and cakes tempted him to open a shop and cafe inside the Yoxford Post Office.

Drop in for a proper cup of cappuccino (locally blended and roasted), all your postal needs, free WiFi, local papers and gossip and naturally, the best selection of cheese anywhere. Or you might see his partner Anne, seen here manning their market stall. 

The Bike Aid kit is kept behind the dry goods counter. As Yoxford is in a valley, everyone could use some extra fats and concentrated protein before tackling the incline to Darsham or Saxmundham or pumping up their tyres.

Yoxford Post Office Shop, Yoxford High Street.

Set satnav to IP17 IJX
01728 668520 or 07792 896 846.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Host Profile: Aldeburgh Music

Aldeburgh Music is not in the town of Aldeburgh any more but is based at Snape Maltings, a site it shares with the Gooderham Family who operate retail establishments, holiday cottages and host the Aldeburgh Food Festival there, so clarification for visitors is sometimes necessary.

Aldeburgh Music are a performing arts charity who operate the world renowned Snape Maltings Concert Hall, the Britten-Pears School and present a year round schedule of concerts. They produce many programmes and events including the Aldeburgh Festival in June.

Hundreds of people visit Snape Maltings on bicycles every year. In the area are many quiet roads with excellent pubs and delightful discoveries. Cycles can be hired - if booked in advance - in Snape Village (ask at the village shop) and electric bikes can be hired in Saxmundham and Leiston nearby. It is difficult to reach Snape solely by public transport. Over a million people a year visit by car but there is no bus  connection to Saxmundham, the nearest railway station.

The Bike Aid kit is kept in the Aldeburgh Music Visitors Centre on the corner of the main concert hall. We don't know if Ben and Peter, as everyone refers to Aldeburgh's founders, liked cycling but they liked walking and guided walks are programmed as part of the festival. 

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Host Profile: Suffolk ACRE

Community development agency Suffolk ACRE headquarters are at the social enterprise starter complex Brightspace on Hadliegh Road in Ipswich.

Chief executive Dr. Wil Gibson is a frequent cyclist and said on the suggestion of hosting a Bike Aid box: "it's a neat idea, an example of what we're all about, enabling communities to help each other."

Suffolk ACRE presently operates several community transport schemes and the Kickstart scheme helping people get to work by providing mopeds and training at affordable cost. 

The Bike Aid kit is available from the reception desk during office hours at

Suffolk ACRE
160 Hadleigh Road
Tel: 01473 345300

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The rationale for Bike Aid

The evidence of the benefit of Bike Aid comes from common sense and my experience of commuting by bicycle to a popular Suffolk arts venue where I worked for several years.  There I was frequently asked by the public, especially tourists who had hired bicycles for a day out, if someone could give them assistance with a puncture or air for their tires. This happens at other public venues and local cycle shops who I asked if they too get requests for assistance. Although infrequent, the impact and discouragement of a breakdown or puncture is disproportionally felt for a tourist or casual cyclist. Our Bike Aid survey results also indicate that the great majority of 'infrequent' cyclists don't carry tools and a puncture repair kit.

I also surveyed employee attitudes towards cycling for my MA dissertation in Management of Creative Enterprise at Norwich University College of the Arts in 2009.

I could not find any specific studies asking if breakdowns are a barrier to people cycling but the Institute of Advanced Motoring did commission a survey on motorists' attitudes to cycling which asked what could get them out of their cars which is available as a PDF download

Host Profile: New Cut Arts Centre

The New Cut Arts Centre is a remarkable place located in Halesworth, Suffolk. Housed in a former grain maltings, the 'Cut' offers a wide programme of theatre, live music, dance, gallery exhibitions and educational and health activities for the community.On weekends it is a lively social hub as adults and their children mingle or attend classes and performances or hang out in the cafe (with free wi-fi). Remarkably, it does this without any Arts Council funding. Lately the Cut has become the home of the enormously successful High Tide Festival of new theatre writing.

The Bike Aid kit is kept at the box office and is available when the Cut is open.

New Cut Arts
New Cut, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 8BY
Box Office: 0845 6732123 ~ Admin Office: 01986 873285,

Friday, 14 January 2011

Legal disclaimers: can we crowd source this?

When officials were presented with the idea of Bike Aid, there was sometimes much teeth sucking and doubts expressed it could operate in our litigious society.

However, other legally trained minds advised (unofficially) that as we didn't charge for it and if hosts made it clear it was at the user's own risk, there shouldn't be any problems if everyone concerned used their common sense. Our best defence is that prosecutors and juries would think that acts of kindness should be encouraged in our society and not legislated into impossibility.

If any law practitioners are reading this, I'd welcome their comments on how to best protect both the host and Bike Aid from liability.

The labels on the first Bike Aid kits contain the following text:

This courtesy cycle repair kit contains: 1 pump with hose. 1 valve adaptor. 3 tyre levers. 1 puncture repair kit. 1 multi spanner.

This kit is hosted by: [insert host name here]

This kit has been sponsored by:
Suffolk County Council
Spring Design and Advertising
Halesworth in Transition Group

Please read these disclaimers before use:
This toolkit is provided ‘as is’ as a courtesy to cyclists in need of emergency repairs entirely at the host’s discretion and the user’s own risk. The use of common sense, principles of mutual assistance (the ethos of the Good Samaritan) and personal responsibility are required for its safe operation.

No warranty of any kind is expressed or implied. No liability is accepted by the host or sponsor for any kind of tort arising from use. Kits containing solvents (i.e. rubber cement) cannot be supplied to persons under 18 years of age without adult supervision.

Please check the contents of this kit and inform the host of any fault. Please be kind and ensure the kit is returned clean, complete and ready for the next user. Please compensate the host appropriately for any expendables consumed or supply their replacements. Gratuities and other forms of acknowledgement of the host are very welcome. If you found this kit useful, why not provide one at another location yourself? Thank you for ensuring the continued provision of Bike Aid.

For more information about Bike Aid, please contact nat [@]

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Bike Aid FAQ

Who is behind this scheme?

The concept of Bike Aid was created by Nat Bocking who was inspired by local 'honesty boxes' and 'geocaching' sites.

The scheme is supported locally by Halesworth in Transition, (HinT) a group of citizens in Suffolk who are concerned about life after the oil runs out.

The local county councillor provided £200 (enough for about 20 kits) and Sustrans donated 20 puncture repair kits. Spring Design and Advertising came up with a logo. Local people donated unwanted cycle tools during a collection day.

Who manages the scheme?

Everyone. The scheme is intended to be a simple action anyone can do.  If you can provide some basic tools, a pump and puncture repair kit for the benefit of passing cyclists somewhere; you’re part of the scheme and managing it. 

Participation will always be open and free but if someone else does try and run off with the idea to make money with it, we shall enforce any moral rights and copyrights as creator of the scheme, let alone hunt them down and ensure public shame rains on them forever.

Why do I have to register?

You don’t HAVE to but it would be helpful if you could display the uniform ‘bike aid’ logo and register the location of the kit so we can make it available on the web for the use of publishers of travel information and tourist guides.  If you register the location of a kit, we’ll send you an digital file of the Bike Aid logo to display as well as mention you on this blog.

Can I sell the kits?

There’s nothing stopping you but we hope people would repay you anyway on an ‘honesty box’ basis. If you are a retail establishment, such as a café or village shop, you might want to think about stocking puncture repair kits for sale and providing some spanners and a pump on loan for any passing cyclists.

Sustrans sells puncture repair kits for £2.50 and they would be cheaper to you wholesale.

We are looking for a vendor to produce a Bike Aid kit in a package. Perhaps something with some nice foam cut to fit the tools etc. If someone else sold pre-packaged Bike Aid kits without our knowledge, we’d probably take a view on that but it depends on their use of our trademarks or copyrighted work.

Why do we need these? Don’t cyclists always carry tools?

Many do but according to our surveys over 90% often go out without tools.

The inspiration for this scheme was the number of requests for assistance from cyclists that Nat Bocking had when he worked at one of Suffolk's major tourist destinations. 

Following his hunch there was a need for this scheme, other tourist destinations in Suffolk reported that they also got frequent requests for assistance from cyclists. Nat also carried out research into why employees did not cycle to work for his MA dissertation. The inconvenience of being stranded by a breakdown or puncture was a significant reason that discouraged people.

Visitors to Suffolk often hire bikes or bring bikes they haven't ridden for some time. They set off unprepared for every eventuality.  Apart from punctures, brake cables can snap, gears can go awry. This can spoil their enjoyment of cycling. Premises that offered assistance to cyclists reported that people were always grateful for any help given and it was often repaid very generously, which compensated  for those who didn't.

This can only work if there are kits everywhere, how will you get to critical mass?

It would be nice if nobody was more than a mile from a kit one day. Until then, we will focus our efforts on providing kits in and around Halesworth, then Waveney and Suffolk Coastal districts, then the rest of Suffolk and so on. When people in other areas join in, we will encourage them to become a nucleus for local growth.