With brighter, warmer weather and school summer holidays fast approaching – there’s no better time for families to dust off their bicycles so they are ready for rides in the sunshine. To help residents at Becontree Heath in Barking & Dagenham prepare, Be First, Valence Ward Councillors, Vandome, Ride for Freedom, and Willmott Dixon launched the Biking Becontree Cycle Hub on Wednesday 17 May.

The Cycle Hub has been set up to offer ongoing support to the local community so people can start or continue cycling with the peace of mind that their bicycle can go the distance, providing a wide array of repairing services on site.

Between 2019 and 2022, Be First delivered the Greening the Fiddlers Low Emission Neighbourhood, a community-led project in Becontree Heath that has engaged residents, schools and businesses to design and implement street scape and road safety interventions. Additionally, a programme of cycling and walking activities was designed and delivered and, since its launch, more than 1,000 cycle repairs have been made.

Cllr Jane Jones, Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care & Disabilities at London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, said: “We strive to deliver a safer and healthier Barking and Dagenham, and enabling our residents to get back on their bikes with the assurance that it is in good working order is an important component to achieving this. To help establish this Cycle Hub, we contributed more than £12,000 of our Valence Ward budget toward the project.

“We’re proud of what we delivered as part of the Greening the Fiddlers Low Emission Neighbour project and are delighted to bring this new Cycle Hub to our community.”

Victoria Spashett, Transport Planner at Be First, said: “Our community cycling activities and projects have been hugely successful so far and we’re excited to expand our offering. We want to provide ongoing support to the local community that will enable them to start or continue their own positive relationships with cycling. In turn, this helps us to deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes for the community and improve local air quality as more people choose to swap their car journeys for cycling.”

Russell Coe, Director of Vandome Cycles, said: “The permanent installation and opening of the Becontree Heath Cycle Hub will give residents across Barking & Dagenham the opportunity to access high quality bicycle repairs together with other cycling services which will enhance the cycling provision already fully supported by London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and Be First. All of us at Vandome Cycles are very excited to be part of this project.”

Gordon Miller, Founder & Team leader at Ride For Freedom, said: “The provision of cycling facilities and infrastructure is critical to encourage more people to get on their bicycles and out of their cars. So, we are delighted to see the launch of Becontree Cycle Hub. It will also provide a much-needed resource for Ride For Freedom as we expand our provision in the borough to empower survivors of modern slavery to cycle to support their wellbeing and rehabilitation into society, as well as our Schools Programme.”

Daniel Tredget, Assistant Project Surveyor at Willmott Dixon said: “As part of this year’s Willmott Dixon Trainee Challenge, I knew I wanted to base my challenge around bikes. They are a brilliant mode of transport, and they can give people a freedom that public transport can’t.

This mini workshop will help to support RideForFreedom get victims of modern slavery back on their feet and help Vandome Cycles to keep the local community rolling with their weekly Dr Bike Sessions. I am proud of what we have achieved, and I hope it helps to get as many people as possible out on bikes.”