Kitchen cooks up a cycling revolution

John Cotton, mechanic at The Bike Kitchen. Picture taken by Jeff Carroll
John Cotton, mechanic at The Bike Kitchen. Picture taken by Jeff Carroll
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Sheffield, Steel City?

Pfft, soo last century. It seems in 2014 a better moniker might be Sheffield, Push Iron City.

South Yorkshire is all about cycling right now, from the Tour de France which passes through the region in July to the UK-wide Space For Cycles conference being held here this weekend.

And tonight the city’s two-wheeled revolution will continue quicker than Bradley Wiggins going downhill with the launch of something called The Bike Kitchen. If you can’t stand the heat of the car, it might be just for you.

The initiative is a new thrice-weekly workshop – one of the first of its kind in the north – in which qualified mechanics will be on hand to help two-wheel beginners repair and maintain their vehicles themselves.

The drop-in service – held in Attercliffe and costing a nominal £4 per biker – will involve experts offering up their knowledge and their tools so novices can learn how to fix everything from a puncture to a loose chain. It is being co-ordinated by Heeley-based social enterprise Recycle Bikes, which has dealt in second-hand cycles since 1996.

“Five years ago, the demand for something like this would have been virtually nonexistent,” says Angela Walker, project coordinator. “But now, it’s absolutely rocketed. More people than ever are cycling and that means more people wanting to learn how to do repairs themselves rather than paying someone else. That’s where these workshops come in. There’s one in Manchester – which is where we got the idea from – but other than that, it’s an original concept.”

One of the experts on hand will be mechanic Karlos Bingham

“There are plenty of bike shops in Sheffield which will mend your bike for you,” he says. “We’re different in that we’re here to provide the space and support so you can do the work yourself. We see it as ‘Do-It-Together’ rather than ‘Do-It-Yourself’ service.”

The scheme has run as a limited pilot since October but, from tonight, will be open to everyone.

“The message is simple,” says Karlos. “Get on your bike.”

Takes place at 6 Princess Street, Tuesday and Thursday 4-8pm, and Saturday 1.30-5.30pm. Places can be booked on 0114 3991100 or just drop in.

A biking boom

Biking is booming in Sheffield, as The Star revealed last week. And it is hoped The Bike Kitchen will both feed off this surge in popularity and help feed it.

Some 5,500 people now use pedal power to get around the city. An impressive five per cent of all Heeley’s residents cycle to work. And by 20203, the city council has ambitious targets to have 20 per cent of all journeys made by bike.

To encourage that, the authority offers free safety sessions for both adults and children, and is constantly looking to increase the current provision of some 102 kilometres of cycle lanes, paths and routes which crisscross the entire city.

It is hoped the Tour de France, which passes through the region on July 6 will inspire even more people to try out two wheels.

But enthusiasts with Cycle Sheffield say more must still be done.

A handful of routes have been labelled ‘dangerous’ by the group, while there is concern there is no integrated system for cyclists to use.

Typically, for Sheffield, potholes remain one of the biggest factors in putting people off.