Why the Bike Off?

Some time in 2014, 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!

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 staton 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?’

I’m not a cycling enthusiast, nor 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 have just launched entries for the Bike Off and the event is scheduled to descend on Oxford’s iconic Broad Street at midday on Saturday the 21st October 2017.

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 – to be a real spectacle of the weird and wonderful! We hope that, with this festival, we can establish a new type of 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 Bike Off is being supported by Oxford City Council. We have a core of 4-5 volunteers and a team of artists and young people at the Ark-T, under the leadership of Emmy O’Shaughnessy. Ark-T’s Creativity Camps summer project has already created around 14 customised bikes and is gathering momentum and some remarkable feedback.

You can connect with the movement on social media:

Get ready for something really different! We hope to see you there.

© Image credits: Becky Moyce – Vinehouse, 2011 – 2017.