Broken Spoke Bike Coop, a community cycle project in Oxford, has secured funding to deliver subsidised mechanic training for women, trans* and non-binary people. In a first for the UK cycling industry, five funded placements will be available to gain a qualification up to Cytech 2 level, with ongoing mentoring and support.
The idea is for these newly qualified mechanics to form the backbone of Broken Spoke’s continued work with people of marginalised genders, supporting Beryl’s Night — its free monthly workshop sessions for women, trans* and non-binary people — both helping to create five new career pathways for those largely underrepresented in the industry, while futureproofing the Coop’s own initiatives and increasing its workforce.
“It’s quite a big moment for us, and the cycling industry as a whole,” says Inês Rahtz, Community and Workshop Coordinator at Broken Spoke. “The cycling industry has a massive gender diversity (and diversity in general) problem, and we’re fed up. When most mechanics in bike shops are cis-men, it creates a kind of hierarchy of knowledge, where the men fix the bikes and teach others. Broken Spoke and Beryl’s Night have been working hard to do away with the hierarchies and barriers that women and marginalised genders face, and this opportunity is a chance for us to deepen that work and get real about standing up to the problem, and home-grow the future of our industry.”
Funding for the initiative comes from Active Oxfordshire, a local charity dedicated to fighting inactivity and challenging inequality. This partnership is not a new one, as the charity also supported Broken Spoke earlier this year when it launched a scheme for heavily subsidised Cycle Training sessions for people living in and around, as well as those impacted by, the Cowley Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.
“We’ve been lucky to have support from close allies at Active Oxfordshire, to start funding this important piece of work. I hope this inspires other funders and projects to do something similar,” says Inês.
Josh Lenthall, Active Oxfordshire’s Senior Strategic Relationship Manager, said “rates of cycling, active travel and those working in the cycling industry are significantly lower amongst females, trans* and non-binary people - a pattern that needs to be broken. Projects like this begin to close that gap and enable people to be included in an activity that provides such freedom and benefits to its participants. Active Oxfordshire is delighted to be supporting this work with funding from Oxfordshire County Council via the Emergency Active Travel fund.”
Applications are currently open for Broken Spoke’s funded training, which will be led by Lucy Greaves, a Bristol-based cycle mechanic working at The Bristol Bike Project. Five spaces are available, and more details can be found on Broken Spoke’s website.
*Note: Broken Spoke Bike Coop uses an asterisk when referring to trans people (trans*) so as to be inclusive to all other marginalised genders.
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Mildred is a Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews who loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike. She does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors. Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall.
Height: 156cm (5'2")
Rides: Liv Devote, Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Whyte Victoria, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike
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