The Bristol Bike Project won the award for ‘grass roots’ at the Observer Ethical Awards this year. It’s hugely well-deserved for a community project run by volunteers aimed at making a difference to people’s lives. they use abandoned and donated bicycles to give people mobility, a sense of freedom and independence. it can be as simple as giving someone the ability to travel further to find work, and get back on their feet. they can then come back and fix it or get help when it goes wrong, making is sustainable, and an exercise in building skills and self-esteem. i mean this in an unpatronising way, learning to build, fix and adapt bicycles is a fantastic thing.
the donated bikes would otherwise be rusting silently in sheds, or go to landfill. here they are used productively. it shows you the profound difference that simple things and ideas can have. the volunteers, people like James Lucas, Adam, Jamie Fraser and Henry are unstinting in their efforts and willingness to get involved. it has the support of a wider community of people – those who donate, and those who raise money to help with the overheads.
above all, it shows what a difference a bike can make to a person’s life. chapeau to the bristol bike project, a genuine and salutary example of what society can mean in a climate where the term is bandied about as the panacea to all kinds of savagery. give them your unwanted bikes and support.