A second chance for unloved bikes

Kingston University and a local charity are teaming up to give abandoned and broken bicycles on KU campuses a second chance.

Kim Richters

Kingston University’s Service Company Ltd (KUSCO) and Eco-op, a local charity, are working together to remove deserted and damaged bikes across Kingston University campuses.

The bikes will then be repaired in the charity’s work-shop and re-sold at a cheaper rate.

Bart Ricketts, project coordinator at Eco-op, said: “For the university, lots of bikes have been left unattended and through us they’re being reused in the community.

“We can fix those bikes and get them back to students. We want to encourage as many students as possible to take up cycling. The quickest way to get around Kingston is on a bike.”

Making cycling affordable

“The bikes might as well end up with refugees or different charities here in Kingston. We try to make cycling affordable,” Mr Ricketts, who studied environmental science at Kingston University, added.

When bicycles left on Kingston campuses look unrideable, start rusting or falling apart, the university tags and monitors them. After two months, the bikes are removed with the help of Eco-op who then bring them to their work-shop in New Malden to fix them.

Thirty abandoned bikes

The project was brought to life when abandoned bicycles across Kingston campuses increasingly took up parking space. At the moment, 20 bikes are being removed from Penrhyn Road and Kingston Hill campus and 10 bikes being taken away from other KU campuses.

If a bicycle is wrongly removed, the student or staff member can approach Eco-op or KUSCO security staff to get it back.

“If anybody contacts the university to say that their bike has been moved and they can prove that then we obviously give them another bike to replace it.

“If we sell the bike we let the buyer know it is conditioned that we may well contact the buyer, ask for the bike back and then give them a refund,” Mr Ricketts said.

Beautiful bikes with character

Landscape architecture student Victoria Peal turned to Eco-op for help when working on a group project. The idea was to build a tricycle which was based on the looks and movements of an animal.

The charity sponsored all the parts for the vehicle, which were previously taken from abandoned bicycles.

Miss Peal, 19, said: “They were so helpful as we visited their workshop and we were fascinated by their mechanics of the company. We came away with plenty of parts in order to build our ‘lizard’.

“They were generous with their time and they gave us the parts all for free as long as we sent a picture of the finished contraption.”

Miss Peal is convinced that the new recycled bicycle scheme Kingston University and Eco-op work on together is a good idea: “I think it would be great to team up with the Eco because they were so helpful on our project, and by recycling old, unused, broken and parts of bikes they are brilliant at turning them into beautiful bikes with character and perfectly functional.”

Cheap and useful

The repaired bicycles are on sale at Eco-op’s workshop from £50 and the charity, which helps people with mental health problem to learning disabilities, offers a 20 per cent discount to students. Eco-op will come to Kingston University in February next year to do a bike sale on campus.

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