Unclaimed bikes in the possession of the Metropolitan Police are to be donated to a Hackney-based charity which gives refurbished bikes to refugees and asylum seekers looking to build a new life in London, thereby giving them the means of travelling around their adopted home city to access essential services.
Under the initiative, which also has the backing of Transport for London (TfL), charity The Bike Project has already received 35 bicycles, which will today be security marked at its workshop as a way of publicly launching the partnership.
In this video from the charity, which also accepts donations of unwanted bikes from the public, some of the people it has already helped reveal their stories as they receive their new bikes, with some having fled persecution in their home countries.
On its website, The Bike Project says:
What we do
We are a team of volunteers working to refurbish second-hand bikes that have been donated to our project. These bikes are then given to destitute refugees and asylum seekers, facilitating them access to resources that can help lift them out of poverty. Additionally, we run a series of bike fixing workshops for anyone keen to volunteer, gain new skills and meet new people. We are a new project that welcomes dynamic new ideas and involvement.
Why we do it
Our vision is very simple. Asylum seekers come to this country with nothing: many have faced persecution and torture in their country of origin. When they get here, they are prevented from finding employment, and forced to live on a mere £35 a week in benefits. London is a city that is rich in opportunities. A bike can help these people reach the many resources that London has to offer: charities that can feed them, lawyers to aid their application process, Home Office appointments, healthcare, education and much more. If they are lucky enough to receive status, a bike can help them find employment.
There are so many bikes out there
So many people are fortunate enough to have old bicycles rotting in their garages that they will never need, nor get round to fixing up. This is a terrible waste, but with people’s kind donations, we can use these bikes to improve the quality of life of those so desperately in need.
Speaking of the donation of bikes from the Metropolitan Police and TfL, the charity’s founder and director, Jem Stein, commented: "A bike provides the first step into normal living for those who have faced persecution and atrocity.
“TfL's generous donation of 35 bikes will allow us to provide many more first steps."
Chief Superintendent Sultan Taylor of the Metropolitan Police’s Safer Transport Command added: “The Bike project is a great cause. There are thousands of bikes that through various circumstances are abandoned or unable to be returned to their owners.
“These bikes will really make a difference to a number of people in need.”
Siwan Hayward, TfL's Acting Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing, commented: “This is a great new project and we are more than happy to support the charity as best we can.
"The sometimes unfortunate circumstances surrounding the unclaimed bikes held by the MPS can now be turned into a positive outcome for new owners who not only have a new way to get around the capital, but also have the opportunity to improve their health and enjoy the excellent cycle routes London has to offer.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.