Charitable John’s: Abandoned bikes find new home in Africa

Taking re-cycling to the next level

africa bikes charity cycles donate johns

Over the past few weeks, St. John’s college has been donating its abandoned cycles to local charity OWL Bikes.  

Porters came up with the scheme after struggling to deal with the vast number of bicycles abandoned in John’s every year.

Steve Poppitt, the head porter at St John’s College stated that abandoned bikes are “often damaged and unusable or have been left behind by students who have since graduated”.


It’s a vicious cycle

He went on to point out that cycle parking facilities are “limited” as it is, and that it is important that “abandoned bikes are identified and removed”.

The cycles however, go to a good home. OWL Bikes employs disabled or disadvantaged Cambridge residents who repair the bikes, which are then sold or donated to a good cause.

OWL bikes “supports disabled and older people, their families and carers”, by providing care both in and out of the home, setting up leisure activities locally, and providing a national rehabilitation service to those who have experienced trauma or a “life changing injury”.

John’s students will also be pleased to hear that their bikes are not being gathered up and shipped off without due process.

Porters, after “exhausting all options available”, impound bikes for a month, before they are dropped off with the Sawston based OWL team.

As it stands, St John’s porters have amassed around 50 bikes to be donated.


From Cambridge to the roads of Malawi

After being repaired the bikes are then sold to the general public, or passed on to the charity Re-cycle Bikes to Africa, a company that provides African farmers with cycles to assist with the day to day running of their lives.

The charity points out that in Britain “millions of bikes are thrown away, or lie unused in sheds”, while many people in Africa have to “spend hours each day walking to collect water, firewood,” or even to “access schools and employment”.

So if you are about to leave Cambridge, or are in possession of a rusty, unloved bike, drop it off with the OWL team, or donate it to the John’s porters for their next shipment.

After all, it’s for a wheely good cause.