Broken Spoke Bike Coop launches funded Cytech training pathway for women, trans and non-binary people

Two women smiling and working together to adjust handlebars in a colourful bike workshop
(Image credit: Broken Spoke Bike Coop)

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.

Two people wearing caps are working together to bend a steel frame back into place. Both have a wide stance, and the person on the right shoulders the front of the frame while the person on the left uses a tool to manipulate the rear of the frame

Broken Spoke Bike Coop is a community cycle project in Oxford that refurbishes old bikes and makes them rideable again (Image credit: Broken Spoke Bike Coop)

“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.”

Two people working together on a bike in a stand outdoors. The person on the left holds the front wheel at an angle while the person on the right kneels and checks for play in the hubs.

Volunteers at Broken Spoke work with members of the public to share skills and repair bikes (Image credit: Broken Spoke Bike Coop)

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.

Two people working on a bike together, seen from a distance.

The funded pathways on offer promise to help bring more people of marginalised genders into the workshop (Image credit: Broken Spoke Bike Coop)

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.”

Two people smiling and working on a bike together. The person on the left is smiling at the camera while the other is looking down at the work they are doing.

Broken Spoke is set on disrupting established hierarchies and diversify a male-dominated industry (Image credit: Broken Spoke Bike Coop)

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 (opens in new tab).

*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 Locke

Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and 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")

Weight: 75kg

Rides: Stayer Groadinger UG, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Marin Larkspur, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike