About Freewheelers Co-op

A Workers' Co-op

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Freewheelers Bicycle Workshop is a workers' co-op based in Lancaster. Co-operative businesses offer an alternative business model, one that puts values and principles, people and not capital at the heart of everything they do.

 

A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, honesty, openness, social responsibility and solidarity.

 

In a co-op workers are empowered to decide how the business is run and have an equal interest in making it succeed. There is no 'boss' making decisions, taking responsibility and squeezing the workers for profits.

 

The co-operative movement in this country has a long history, which we are pleased to be a part of and we actively promote this movement through our involvement with other co-ops and the wider co-operative movement. Our co-op subscribes and supports the seven international co-operative principles.

 

We're a member of Co-operatives UK.

 

Transport, the Environment and our Community

We believe that our society is too car dependant and we see cycling as playing a key role in getting people out of their cars  - helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

 

Even though cycling is a fun leisure activity and a great sport, we're passionate about cycling as a legitimate form of transport. As such we hope people value and take care of their bicycles like people did not that many years ago, when bicycles and pedestrians, and not cars, populated our roads; with love, respect and the dedication that they need. It is not only pleasurable and more practical to ride a bicycle that works (especially in hilly Lancaster) but it also helps reduce landfill and waste. We hope to combine this vision with offering affordable prices.

 

Cycling is praised for its green credentials, but cycling instead of driving can bring social benefits as well. Communities with fewer and slower cars are more vibrant, pleasurable and safer for all; but especially for children and the elderly. Fewer and slower cars means more room for pedestrians and cyclists on the roads!


Cycling and Gender

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Cycling can be a very male dominated activity. In fact, according to government figures in the UK twice as many men as women cycle. Also, traditionally things mechanical have not been part of the female role, so more women than men feel dis-empowered when it comes to using tools and maintaining their bicycles.

 

Even though we will work to ensure that in the shop, the Tool Club and our courses everyone feels welcomed, supported and respected, we believe that providing women-only spaces is one way to overcome these barriers, and can be very helpful and empowering for many women. As part of our commitment to gender equality, we'll run women-only Tool Club (*) sessions and maintenance courses. Everyone that self identifies as a woman is welcome to these sessions. These sessions and courses will all be run by women who are qualified mechanics, or volunteers for the Tool Club. And, of course women who don’t want or need such spaces can simply attend the other sessions.

 

(*) The women only Tool Club sessions have been temporarily stopped due to a lack of demand. However we remain committed to offering this service and will run it again as soon as we feel there's more demand for it.


Towards a Sustainable Bicycle Industry

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We'd like to see the bicycle industry, that was once one of the drivers of the economy of Britain, thriving again. We believe the bicycle industry should be re-localised to be able to meet environmental standards and help our much needed local economies. Replacing car manufacturing with bicycle and bike components manufacturing, for instance, could help to achieve the transition to a greener economy. To this end, we're committed to research and stock British and environmentally friendly products and to be part of the growing network of organisations encouraging the sustainable growth of this sector of the economy.

Recycling, re-using and repairing are also fundamental aspects of sustainability. For this reason we're committed to refurbish and sell second hand bicycles and parts (although these are subject to availability).