From Foodhall to Bikehall

Bikehall founder-member Henry Roe gives us the story of Sheffield’s newest community bike kitchen

Foodhall Project is Sheffield’s multi-award winning public dining room and community kitchen. Its heart-of-the-city eating and event space has been open since 2015 and is dedicated to building community and food security while tackling social isolation, inequality, and food waste.

But what’s that got to do with bikes and cycling?

Foodhall’s open organisational structure means that members of the community are welcome to contribute to the project in many different ways. If you’re into pottery, you can start up pottery workshops. If you’re passionate about film, you can start up a cinema night. And if you’re into riding (and fixing) bicycles and want to share that with others, well, you can do that too.

That’s how Bikehall started in 2018. The plan was to share our (sometimes rusty) bike maintenance knowledge with other people in the Foodhall community who wanted to learn or whose bicycles needed some TLC. The problem was: we had no money and few resources for getting the workshops off the ground. With the help of a bit of funding from Love to Ride and NUS’s UniCycle project, however, we were on our way to having just enough tools and equipment to get moving.

Bikehall began with a series of bike maintenance workshops in autumn, 2018. We invited folks to join us for a two hour class about a specific part of the bicycle (brakes, gears, etc.) followed by a hearty meal cooked by volunteers. The sessions were well-attended and we had some great feedback. Our team of committed volunteers also grew after workshop-attendees wanted to get more involved.

After our initial success, it would be wrong to say it was all plain sailing from there. In 2019 our workshop attendance dropped off and we soon realised we needed to promote the sessions more widely. We also decided we wanted to experiment with different kinds of events, to act as cycling advocates and not just bicycle tinkerers. We ran a film night in collaboration with Foodhall’s TV Dinners project, in which we showcased three short films from a diverse range of film makers.

The TV Dinners event poster

We also organised our first Bikehall bike ride – a 20km(ish) route out to Damflask reservoir in the foothills of the Peak District. We also changed our workshops to an open bike kitchen-style ‘Build-a-Bike’ workshop format – through which we rejuvenate donated bikes to sell but also help other people fix their own bikes. This gives us more flexibility during the sessions, regardless of how many people turn up.

Running these events and making the change to the workshop format has helped us maintain a more sustainable schedule for us as volunteers and for people who want to join in. Support from other local organisations has also helped a lot. We had 5 bikes donated to us from the University of Sheffield, lots of hardware donated from COMAC Bike Project, and some more bikes given to us from ReCycle Bikes – who run their own well-priced Bike Kitchen with a really supportive team of mechanics.

All of this means that in 2020 we’re planning to do even more. We have another ride (or two) in the works, we’re organising another film/documentary screening (with food!), and we’re running bimonthly build-a-bike workshops (every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, from 5.30-8pm). In addition, we’re building our own permanent bike workshop space in Foodhall’s basement – to give more people access to a fully kitted out workshop at different times of the day. It’s all shaping up to be another great year for Bikehall.


If you want to get involved please check out our webpage or email us at bikes@foodhallproject.org. We especially need experienced and/or confident bike mechanics to help supervise workshops. If that sounds like you, then please get in touch!

Rolls Royce Celebrate

On a cold but sunny February morning, our Local Project Manager for Derby, Lucy Giuliano, had the pleasure of officially unveiling the new Cyclehoop bike rack at Rolls Royce.

Rolls Royce staff celebrate their victory

Global winners of our 2019 Cycle September challenge, staff from across the site gathered to enjoy homemade cake, a quick spin on an electric bike courtesy of local bike shop Cyclomonster and encouraging talks from Rolls Royce’s Director of Health, Safety and Environment, as well as their hard working champion Eloise Thatcher, who organised the event.

Kindly provided by Cyclehoop, the bike rack is a much needed addition to the very well used cycle storage and there are already plans to expand the cycle storage provision as a result of the win. The importance of cycling is highlighted on the custom made plaque commissioned by Eloise and hopefully Rolls Royce will continue their winning streak throughout our upcoming challenges in 2020!

Rolls Royce’s plaque celebrating their win

Love to Ride Southampton – R&M Electrical

Matt Ridely, the Champion for Cycle September winners R&M Electrical, tells us why he registered his workplace and how promoting cycling benefits the business.

I’ve worked at R&M for over 12 years now and have been cycling to work for 6 years. At our Head Office in Sholing (where I work) we have approximately 60 staff. We do have showers and a large shed for storing bikes. At Head Office it is only me who commutes by bike regularly all year-round but there are a handful of others that ride at the weekend and at other sites who also cycle on a regular basis.

I registered R&M because I wanted to encourage others to start cycling to work as it’s a great benefit to our health and to the environment. When I first registered us on Love to Ride I thought it would just be a handful of people getting involved but people I’d never imagined would start riding started getting out in the evenings, or heading out to the local shop in lunch breaks. It’s been amazing to watch.

To get people involved I sent out regular emails to all staff to show how we were doing and asked them to get out and ride. I think the thing that got most people out was my 8 year old son and I doing a 25km charity ride around Portsmouth. I think that inspired people to get out there… if an 8 year old can do it they can too!

People who took part have also had their attitudes to cycling changed, it’s almost like they’d forgotten what it feels like to ride and how much fun it is. Another benefit is getting people to think about what it is like for people commuting by bike and to pay more care when driving around cyclists. The prizes have been great, a nice mix of prizes for veteran riders, and also great prizes to help people get started riding.

R&M’s stats for Cycle September 2019

I’m looking to build up a fleet of bikes here at head office for people to use during lunch breaks to get them away from their screens and out in the fresh air. In spring, I’ll be organising some excursions to Mayfield Park just up the road from us to get people out and about. I think that now I know there are people here willing to join in I will ramp up the noise I make prior to Cycle September and get some Bikeability training on site to give people more confidence to head out onto the roads. Maybe have some in-house prizes to get people competing a bit too. My advice to other Champions would be to just keep making noise about it, get people out in the car park having a go on a bike, just watch their faces! It’s amazing, you can see their inner child coming out!

R&M staff going for a ride at lunchtime

I’d urge other organisations to sign up, especially in Southampton, because we have a responsibility to look after the health of our staff and our environment… and cycling does both of these things! It doesn’t cost much, and it makes people happier, better workers. It’s a no brainer! When I cycle to work, I arrive refreshed and ready for the day, when I drive (which takes longer!) I arrive stressed and in a bad mood! Just get people cycling, and lead by example!

R&M’s Cycle September certificate

Find out more and register at lovetoride.net

Cycle September: The Global Bike Challenge

Phew! That was an epic Cycle September. This year we stepped things up, turning our flagship Workplace Cycle Challenge into the Global Bike Challenge for the first time.

And the results were spectacular: 57,162 people from 1,965 workplaces logged a ride, including 3,780 people who hadn’t ridden a bike at all – or only a few times – in the last twelve months. Altogether, Cycle September participants clocked up over 9.5 MILLION miles, saving more than 325,000kg of CO2 (that’s the equivalent of twenty-five return flights from Edinburgh to Auckland).

We had 757 prizewinners who were rewarded for riding or encouraging others to ride and thousands of people helped to build a real buzz for biking by sharing their stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our new – and very, very popular – Stories feature:

People are using our Stories feature to find and share inspiring cycling stories

We’ll be sending out surveys to everyone who took part during the week commencing Monday 21 October. Please look out for this in your inbox – our members’ responses will help us to run even bigger and better events in 2020 and after! (Plus you can win some amazing prizes for responding…).

Finally, a huge thank you to our wonderful partners and sponsors for supporting our events and helping to get more people on bikes. We salute you! Ribble, Haka Tours, Proviz, Loffi, Street Team, LiteLok, Cyclehoop and the wonderful Beryl.*

If you missed out on the Global Bike Challenge this year, make sure you hear about our exciting plans for 2020 by signing up with Love to Ride today at lovetoride.net.

*To mark the clocks going back in the UK, we’ll be giving away a Beryl Laserlight to one lucky winner each day Monday to Thursday (21-24th October) next week. One survey respondent will also win a Laserlight (we’ll also be giving away 5x Loffi Gloves and a £600 Ribble voucher)

Bike Week 2019 – everyday cycling for everyone

This June we’re delighted to be teaming up with our friends at Cycling UK, to celebrate everyday cycling for everyone.

Whether you’re from Moray or Monmouthshire, Brighton or Birmingham, you’re invited to experience the freedom of two wheels and help others to discover the joys and benefits of cycling.

Cycling is fun, practically free, easy and it’s so good for you too: people who ride to work are far less likely to suffer from cancer or heart disease and if more people get around by bike our air will be cleaner, saving lives and making our towns and cities greener and more liveable.

Cycling UK provide free insurance for all events listed on the Bike Week website, so take a look to find out what’s on in your area or start planning your own event (we’ve got some handy tips to help you run a bike breakfast here).

The theme for 2019 is #7DaysofCycling – we’ll be inviting all Love to Ride members to try and ride seven times during Bike Week (8-16 June) and we’ll be sharing different cycling experiences using the hashtag and our new Stories feature to celebrate:

  1. Enjoying the social side of cycling
  2. Cycling to school and engaging children in cycling
  3. The mental health benefits of cycling
  4. Businesses boosting their cycle-friendliness
  5. Favourite three-miles – best short routes by bike
  6. Getting fit and healthy through cycling
  7. Travelling from A-B by bike 

There are no rules on what counts as one of your seven – from riding to work to cycling to the shops; from giving your bike a spring clean to joining a cycle club – all you need to do is share a photo, video or story about your experience on Love to Ride or via social media on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, using the #7DaysofCycling hashtag. 

As usual the Love to Ride team have grabbed a great bundle of prizes – to match each daily theme – such as a UK cycling holiday for two on day 1, a couple of bikes, a fab Blubel navigation prize and much more besides.

The legendary Wozzy from our West Yorkshire project out in the fresh air

And with #cleanairday during June too, we’re giving away an e-bike to one lucky winner who logs a ride for transport on 20 June.

And as if all that wasn’t quite enough, our partners Cyclescheme are bringing even more to the party with prize giveaways on their community platform.

So to sum up, this really is our best Bike Week ever – so come on over and and join in the fun! lovetoride.net