Colchester: Town’s “cool” bike scheme

AN INNOVATIVE new campaign to encourage residents to get on their bikes has been launched in Colchester.

Inspired by London’s “Boris bikes”, Keep Colchester Cycling will offer people the chance to hire a bike, along with a lock, safety equipment and cycle routes for the day completely free of charge.

Set-up by creative thinkers working out of 15 Queen Street, the scheme is a joint initiative between the Creative Coop, Keep Colchester Cool and Cycle Colchester.

Re-Cycle, a charity which collects and sends second hand bikes to third world countries, is also on board and has donated 12 mini wheeler bikes to be used.

Organisers are calling on local artists and designers to come forward to help create designs for the bikes, which have been stripped and spray painted grey ready for decoration.

A competition has been set-up to submit design ideas, which must be hard-wearing and weather proof.

The bikes, known as Shoppers, were originally Raleigh’s response to the small wheel Moulton bikes of the 1960s and have propen practical and popular ever since.

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They use commonly interchangeable parts which means they are easy to customise and come with fittings for racks and baskets.

Project Co-ordinator, Mike Polom said: “Boris bikes are quite heavy and bulky so we thought let’s use something nicer and easier to use. They look brilliant when customised and it’s easy to adjust the handle bars and seats, so they’re open to anyone, adults and kids.”

The idea was able to get off the ground after a �2,000 grant was awarded to the project by Cycle Colchester last year.

The money was used to make all of the bikes road worthy and to purchase the cycling safety equipment.

Ben Howard from Keep Colchester Cool said: “We got talking about how we can raise the profile of cycling in the town and showcase what’s cool about Colchester. We want to get people to view it differently, from the view of riding a bike.

“This is a year long not-for-profit campaign. We’re all about social projects for the community, but if it proves really popular and someone wants to take it over as a business in the future, then they can.

“It’s in the hands of the community now and we’ll make sure people are aware but we’re getting enquiries already.”

Artists wishing to enter the competition should visit to submit design entries by March 9.

Winners will be announced by March 12 and must be able to complete their decorated bikes by March 25 ready for the launch at the end of the month.