A crowdfunding drive has been launched to raise £10,000 for the Bicycle Barge, which will ply London's waterways offering ad hoc repairs and booked-in services for the capital's community of cyclists living on or near the water, or who ride along the towpath for commuting or leisure.
The initiative is the brainchild of boat-dweller, self-confessed bike nut, Canal & River Trust volunteer ranger and sometime road.cc contributor TR McGowran, who has launched a campaign on Crowdfunder to turn his dream into reality.
Writing on the fundraising website, he describes the project as “a floating bicycle workshop operating from a canal boat. An ex-British Waterways work boat to be precise. It is more like a floating metal shed with a large front hold at the moment.
“At present it is a basic boat in need of a revamp! It needs to be stripped back to the metal, parts to be fabricated and the whole lot given a fresh paint job before being decked out as a workshop and ready to do business.”
“You might think that this may sound a bit odd, associating bicycles with boats but hear me out, this makes perfect sense,” he continues.
“For starters I am obsessed with bicycles in all forms and cycling of all forms. Secondly I live on a boat (I love boats too) and have been living on the canal within the boundaries of London for the past four years.
”There are over 100 miles of towpath in Greater London. All of which is very popular for recreational users and commuters, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and wanderers.”
According to 2013 figures from the Canal & River Trust, McGowran says “the busiest stretches of the central London towpaths can have around 1,000 people per hour in the morning,” with 50 per cent of those on bicycles.
“The Bicycle Barge will navigate across London along the Grand Union canal which dissects Central London from West to East and a bit up and down, and along too.
He says it will operate "in Uxbridge, Slough, Brentford, Southall, Greenford, Perivale, Alperton, Harlesden, Willesden Junction, Kensal Green, Ladbroke Grove, Little Venice, Paddington, Camden, Primrose Hill, Angel Islington, Kings Cross, Broadway Market, Victoria Park, Hackney Wick, Limehouse, Bow, Homerton, Old Ford, Clapton, Leighton, Tottenham and beyond!
“By being mobile we hope to promote our services to a larger community of cyclists who live by or use the canal and its towpaths. Not being a bricks and mortar, stationary workshop means we have minimal over heads also, which means great savings but we do have the big compromise of minimal space.
“The Bicycle Barge will offer a drop in service for those on the hoof and only requiring minor fixes like brakes and gears adjustments. The main business will be booked in services with an optional collect and return service for those who may require it.
“The Bicycle Barge will also offer a more hands on approach and run sessions for you to come in and learn how to service your own bike; from full bike builds to replacing and adjusting brake pads.
You can find a list of the services on offer and prices on the Bicycle Barge page on Crowdfunder.co.uk.
McGowran says he will use social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr – as well as a news feed on the website to keep everyone updated with the batrge's location, as well as availability of bookings and special offers.
He adds: “You can buy more than one award. Give them as a present. Buy them for the whole family, your lover, your neighbour or that person at work you have the hots for?
“Whatever and for whoever it is for, and however much it is for, you are doing a really, really good thing and I thank you enormously. Humanity WILL be improved.”
Here are the rewards on offer for various levels of donation:
You get a high five, a float keyring, a sticker and listed on our website and on the boat as a friend and supporter.
Gets you a Bicycle Barge Mug, a Sticker, a high five AND your name listed on our website and on the boat as a friend and supporter.
Gets you a special sticker that gives you 10% off all services done on the bicycle it is stuck on, a complimentary high five AND your name listed on our website and on the boat as a friend and supporter.
Gets you a special float keyring that gives you 20% off all servicing, a sticker, a high five, your name listed on our website and on the boat as a friend and supporter.
Gives you a morning or afternoon beginners bicycle maintenance class, a sticker, a high five, your name listed on our website and on the boat as a friend and supporter
Gets your company a link on our website and listed as a friend and supporter (you can get a high five too if you want).
Become a BBBFF (Bicycle Barge Best Friend For Life), get a 3D printed keyring giving you 50% off all bike servicing for EVER. And a hug. And a Mug. And free tea and biscuits when you visit.
Gets you advertising on the side of the Bicycle Barge. Art work will be designed by the awesome AW-projects.com. (you will also get a complimentary biscuit with your tea every time you visit* **) *providing there are tea making facilities. **providing there are biscuits.
Will make your company a main sponsor and have your company name as the prefix of the Bicycle Barge and given its own sub-domain for a whole year e.g YOUR BRAND.BicycleBarge.com
This will be used on all advertising and marketing literature for a year. You will also be able to use the Bicycle Barge for a number of events.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.