Free bike maintenance scheme

A service providing free bicycle repairs for residents in Cherwell has been rolled out across the district. Dr Bike is a Cherwell District Council initiative, aimed at helping people to get back on two wheels. Fully booked sessions have now taken place in Banbury, Kidlington and Bicester, with the help of volunteers from Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club, Kidlington Cycle Club and Bicester Green.

Cllr Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing said: “Encouraging residents back onto two wheels will bring great health benefits as well as having a positive effect on mental wellbeing. It contributes to cleaner air and reduces our carbon footprint, something we made a key priority when declaring a climate emergency last autumn.”

The first district-wide appointments took place on Saturday 30 May with all the slots reserved within hours of going live. Due to COVID-19, an online bookings system was put in place, giving people an allocated time to drop off and pick up their bikes, ensuring social distancing guidelines were followed. Personal protection equipment (PPE) was also provided to everyone working on the scheme.

Celia Cornforth, centre manager for Bicester Green said: “Over the last few weeks, there’s been a surge in people digging out their older bikes, looking to use them as an everyday form of transport. Unfortunately, they might not always be in tip-top condition. That’s where Dr Bike comes in. Our trained mechanics will give each bike a service as well as providing basic repairs for free! We have been running Dr Bike for the last year but COVID-19 has given us a new set of challenges to deal with. The team have worked extremely hard to put in place new measures, ensuring social distancing can take place.”

Further sessions are planned over the coming weeks. Residents in Kidlington can book in for Saturday 13 June at Exeter Hall. Bookings can be made at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/107540580772. Brake cables, pads, gear cables and inner tubes are all included in the service, along with labour time. Parts not included can be sourced at a charge.