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Oxford Cycle Workshop shuts up shop to focus on outreach activities (+ video)

Workers' co-op looks to get more people cycling in university city's disadvantaged areas...

Founded in 2001 and becoming a workers’ co-operative two years ago, OCW provides workshop access and cycle training, sells recycled bikes and is also the Oxford dealer for Orbea – the Basque bike brand itself being an employee-owned co-op – but all that will change on three weeks tomorrow when the shop on the city’s Magdalen Road closes its doors for the final time.

While it will continue to recycle bikes and sell them, OCW wants to focus on getting more people cycling in areas like Barton and the Blackbird Leys estate, and it has set up a new website, We’re Making Changes, to explain how the business is evolving, with a YouTube video also highlighting the initiatives it plans to focus on going forward.

Director Dan Harris told the Oxford Mail, “We’re sad it’s closing. It was a difficult decision,” but added, “We want to take bike repair and maintenance out to places where cycling isn’t prevalent at the moment.

“We also want to take our mechanics out into communities which aren’t well served by bike shops, such as South Oxford, Headington and West Oxford.”

The change in the business’s direction should also help it boost the number of bikes it repairs, which currently stands at around 3,500 a year. OCW plans to double that through holding sessions at venues such as the Skylight homeless centre, said Harris.

James Styring, chairman of local cycling campaign group Cyclox commented: “It’s a pity the shop is closing but I think it’s a good idea. I’m acutely aware the take-up of cycling in Barton and Blackbird Leys isn’t the same as in the centre of Oxford, so for the workshop to take the cycling message and the cycling bug to new areas is a good thing.”

Cyclist Paul Cullen, aged 67, from Jericho, told the newspaper: “Riding recycled bikes is a very Oxford thing and fits in with the city’s green commitments.”

He added: “Anything that takes cycling out to the estates is a positive thing.”

OCW is highly active on the Oxford cycling scene, promoting monthly themed “alleycat” races – treasure hunts might be a better description – that have attracted a loyal and enthusiastic following, and also organising the annual Cycle Oxford Festival.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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