As temperatures continue to drop, you might need some advice on beating the freeze. So we had a chat with Jim Blakemore, co-founder and CEO of Bikeworks, about winter cycling, his passion for bikes and what motivates him.
Blakemore founded Bikeworks 10 years ago. A non-profit social enterprise located in Bethnal Green in East London, the organisation runs a number of community cycling programmes. These include an employment programme for disadvantaged groups, an inclusive cycling programme called All Ability, cycle training for the whole community, a bicycle reuse centre and a bike shop. Bikeworks also runs corporate teambuilding programmes and mobile bicycle maintenance workshops (AKA ‘Dr Bikes’) delivered both in community locations and directly to businesses.
Since starting in 2007, Blakemore along with co-founders Zoe Portlock and Dave Miller, have grown their staff and won numerous awards. They take staff morale seriously and have a welfare department headed by Bow and Lewis – two adorable office dogs.
Why did you start Bikeworks?
I started Bikeworks because I like being my own boss, plus I love bikes and cycling and like to help people; that’s what motivates me. There’s never a dull day here and there is a tangible difference made to people’s lives daily.
Where is your favourite place to cycle?
Everywhere. In traffic, in the country, on closed roads, in forests…but not dual carriageways.
What is the thing you love most about what you do?
Making people happy – from fixing a puncture and getting someone on their way, to meeting someone who has been unemployed for 12 years. I love training them and then seeing them come back into Bikeworks after they have started work; it’s amazing. I also enjoy working on our all ability program. This sends shivers down my spine when I see people we have helped cycle for themselves; the barriers of intellectual or physical challenges they have overcome themselves to be able to ride.
What is your overall top tip for cycling in the winter months?
Be seen, ride safely.
What are your thoughts on fitting winter tyres to your bike?
Mad – it freezes three or four times in London, so unless it dumps 10 inches of snow there is no point. I would love to buy ice spike tyres if it were a little colder.
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