Some time in 2014, in the wake of the Bullfinch case and a dark chapter in Oxford’s history, I was speaking with a senior Police Officer about community cohesion in our city (Oxford). I was imagining ways in which different communities could come together in a fun, cross cultural, intergenerational way, and it came to me – bikes!
Inspiration from the Art Car Parade in USA
Around this time I was introduced to an event that takes place every April in Houston, Texas called the Houston Art Car Weekend. The Art Car Parade was born in April, 1988 with a 40 car parade seen by an estimated 2,000. It began very modestly, with a donated 1967 Ford station wagon, some paint and plastic fruit. Today, 26 years later, the event attracts 250+ vehicles (and other entries) from all over the world and grosses the city of Houston in excess of $8 Million. I thought, ‘why can’t we do the same with bikes – and what better venue than Oxford?’
The Houston Art Car Parade now attracts 250+ vehicles
I thought, ‘why can’t we do the same with bikes – and what better venue than Oxford?’
Now, I’m not a cycling enthusiast, nor – prior to the Great British Bike Off – do I have direct experience in organising bike festivals. But I do love bikes – and furthermore I believe in creativity and community. What I do have is a fantastic, dedicated team around me. We are motivated by doing and making cool stuff and moreover, I like inspiring others – especially young people to do the same.
In 2015, The Great British Bike Off was born. We had help in the early days from the Fundraising Committee at Oxfordshire Youth – who due to unforeseen circumstances had to withdraw their support. In January this year we moved our base of operations to the Ark-T Centre in Cowley. We are now launched and the event is scheduled to descend on Oxford’s iconic Broad Street at midday on the 21st October 2017.
Oxford’s new cycling festival – celebrating recycling, creativity and community
We’ve designed the Bike Off to be unlike any other cycling festival before it. We want to create fun, engaging event for families and people from all backgrounds – and to be a real spectacle of the weird and wonderful! We hope that, with this festival, we can establish a new event to help promote Oxford as a leader in cycling, recycling and creativity. The Bike Off will culminate in a City Centre Show with music and a carnival atmosphere, it’s completely free to enter a bike and you don’t even need a bike to attend.
The team behind the Bike Off
The Bike Off is being supported by Oxford City Council – specifically Alison Drummond and Euton Daley, without whom we couldn’t have got this far. We have a core of 4-5 volunteers and a team of artists and young people at the Ark-T Centre, under the leadership of Emmy O’Shaughnessy. Ark-T’s Creativity Camps summer project has already created around 8 customised bikes. We have some incredible supporters and sponsors that although I won’t mention here, deserve a massive thank you.
Chair of the Great British Bike Off
Help us make this event such a success that it becomes an annual fixture for Oxford.. We’d love you to enter your own bike, or just turn up on the day to cheer us on.
We’re looking for volunteers to help with the organisation and also to help out on the day. And we can never have enough Sponsors !
Get ready for something really different! We hope to see you there.
PS To stay in touch with the latest developments around the Bike Off, please connect with us on social media and don’t forget to mention #BikeOff …