Dun Laoghaire-based Bike Hub aims to be the spoke of the community

IMAGE: Transition year students taking part in a Bike Hub workshop.

A new Dun Laoghaire-based social enterprise, the Bike Hub, has set out its intention of helping cycling tackle some of the most critical pressures facing our society today.

“Beyond any doubt, cycling is part of the solution to many societal and economic problems like health, congestion, pollution, quality of life and cost of living. Many people who can benefit the most from adopting cycling as a means of urban transport are missing this opportunity. Sometimes this occurs due to misconceptions about cycling or maybe they lack support or even economic means to take up cycling,” said Stephen McManus, founder of the Bike Hub.

He said: “The Bike Hub would like to play a role in sharing information and supporting people if they chose to try cycling out. For that purpose we have designed a number of community projects that will be delivered in collaboration with businesses, individuals and, hopefully soon, with county councils.”

McManus, who is also a co-founder of campaign groups I Bike Dublin and CyclingWorks Dublin, said the Bike Hub should soon be able to confirm partnerships with businesses and local government.

IMAGE: The Bike Hub went digital during the lockdown

The plan for the Bike Hub ranges from giving school-children practical maintenance skills, to helping groups who support older members of the community, to providing refurbished bicycles to vulnerable people.

McManus explains: “We work with young people in schools and community organisations by training them on bike-safety and basic repairs and maintenance programs. We partner with local organisations supporting active-lives for the over 60s. We strive to create a collaborative and dynamic hub where cyclists can meet, maintain and plan for fun cycling activities. We donate refurbished bikes to refugees organisations and other people in need.”

The pandemic has slowed progress for the Bike Hub — after all, its website states that its “primary function is to bring all members of the community to enjoy cycling and connect at a human level” — but McManus thinks with the lockdown easing that they are “almost there” with their planning and “now is time to test all of this”.

He said: “Designing the services in a way that can be relevant to the community, attractive to the corporate sector and aligned with government plans and objectives is a tough process”.
The Bike Hub will be asking companies, as part of their corporate social responsibility, to take part in its “Adopt a School” programme; donate bicycles so that they can be refurbished for people on low incomes, refugees and other vulnerable groups; and fund workshops for employees.
“Covid has been a mixed bag for the project. While it is harder to engage with stakeholders virtually in such a novel project, we have succeeded in securing strong interest from key people, but it has been a slow process. On the other hand, Covid has made urban cycling more relevant than ever. There is funding, infrastructure is popping up all over the country, the Government is actively asking people to consider cycling and walking to reduce pressure of public transport,” said McManus.
He added: “We, as a country, now have to work addressing the inequality of the cycle to work scheme. We need incentives for the unemployed, students, self-employed, retired people, carers and stay at home parents to try cycling out. If we do it right, many will try it and stick to it, at least for their shorter trips. This can be transformational in people’s daily life like very few other things can.”

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

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