With over half a million people residing in Bristol the issues surrounding transport are no different to any other modern growing city; or are they? Cycling is part of what Bristol is all about. Over 4% of the local population are choosing bike, compared to a national average of 2.5%. The council also have ambitious plans to increase that to 20% over the next five years, which would bring Bristol more in line with some of its European counterparts such as Amsterdam and Barcelona who thrive with busy cycling communities. Whilst the terrain doesn’t naturally support a commute by bicycle its prominence amongst the citizens of Bristol is one of the many examples of the progressive nature of a city that has been awarded the accolade of European Green Capital for 2015.
We thought it would be a great opportunity to look at our customer pioneering Bristol based bike shop Jake’s Bikes. Earlier this year they launched a sustainable range of commuting bikes. The ‘Bristol Bicycles’ range aim to encourage more commuters to try the two wheeled friend as an option to get to the office or just to the pub. Their design is built to suit the many hills of Bristol, whilst their cost means that they are an affordable alternative for someone new to cycling.
Hidden away behind the bus station, is an unassuming store based in the heart of Bristol. Its community ethos and desire to make cycling accessible is refreshing take on how shops can work. Their aim is to “help as many people as possible to cycle”, whether that’s through the sale of a new or used bike or with a fully functioning workshop for all your service repairs. But it’s a different proposition to your usual bike shop; they also provide training so you’re able to keep on rolling and sort out your own repairs.
As I set foot in the shop I can’t help admire the recently assembled fleet of Bristol Bicycles the latest venture from Jake Voelcker the man behind it all. Jake and I take a seat in the workshop, sipping over a cup of tea whilst we chat about all things bike and Bristol. It’s apparent that the character of this place is different to a regular high street bike shop. It’s not a specialist store with bikes costing more than cars, neither is it somewhere you feel out of place because you aren’t wearing the right gear or don’t have the latest trendy fixed gear bike. It’s down to earth. In fact Jake himself says that ’our speciality is that we don’t specialise’ being adaptable, creative and inclusive make this bike shop accessible to all, but most importantly a friendly place if you don’t know anything about bikes.
They aim to bridge the gap between the charity sector of bike projects and the bike shop aimed at an enthusiast. Bristol has over 60 bike shops, but that doesn’t concern Jake, for me “its great to see more people using bikes and needing bike shops”.
“We just want to keep cycling simple,” says Jake. “If we provide great customer service and can teach people the basic skills they need if they want to learn then we can help sustain a shifting momentum in the commuting patterns of our community.”
The story of how Jake got here is even more inspiring. It’s really a love story between man, machine and metropolis. It all started as a dream, a side project a few years back in a little workshop in Bristol. Its growth has been entirely organic, fast forward a few years and the shop is now located in the town centre. Jakes bikes now employees four full time staff and two part time, so chase your dreams, ride your bike and help make the world a better place.
words & photography: Luke Bogue, Marketing Coordinator, Triodos Bank
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