Dedicated volunteers devastated by arson attack on bike repair business
A NOT-for-profit business that repairs bikes has been attacked by arsonists twice in a fortnight.
Volunteers at the Bunker Bike Workshop on Smeaton Road are devastated that hour upon hour of hard work has literally gone up in smoke.
The first fire was started at the back of the workshop on December 21, destroying about 10 bikes.
Then, on New Year's Eve, another 40 that had been kept under tarpaulin at the front of the premises were torched.
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A mixture of bikes for men, women and children, they had been lovingly repaired and were to be sold, at an affordable price, to people who needed them.
Project manager Harvey Tadman said: "It's sickening and very disappointing for all the volunteers who have given up their time and everyone who has donated bikes to us.
"We were gearing up for spring because cycling has become very popular. Bristol is a cycling city and we're getting more 20mph zones so people are going to need bikes.
"A few of the bikes destroyed still needed fixing, but most of them were ready to go to a new home."
The 47-year-old, who believes the second fire happened at about 9.30pm, added: "It looks as though whoever did this used petrol because the fire was so intense. I don't even need to spell out how dangerous that is."
Based near the Create centre, Bunker Bike Workshop started in 2011.
The city council has provided the workshop for a "peppercorn" rent, allowing volunteers to repair donated bikes and bring them up to safe working order, before selling them.
They also provide help and repairs to the many bike riders and students from the Bower Ashton campus of UWE who use the nearby cycle path.
Repairs to children's bikes are always provided free of charge.
Mr Tadman added: "We basically act as a pit stop for a lot of people, repairing their punctures and broken chains. Also, we're open at quite unsociable hours in the summer so we provide a reassuring presence on what, at certain times, can be a quiet part of the cycle track.
"We have received so much support and so many donations since we started, but any help anyone wants to give would be greatly appreciated."
Anyone who wants to donate an old bike can visit the workshop on Smeaton Road or get in contact with Mr Tadman through the Create centre, on 0117 9250505.
Avon and Somerset police spokesman Wayne Baker said: "On New Year's Eve we received a report that a number of bikes chained outside the premises of the Bunker Bike Workshop had been set alight, as well as the guttering of the building.
"We are treating this incident as criminal damage and police enquiries are currently continuing into both fires. We would like to appeal for any witnesses."
Anyone who witnessed either incident or knows who is responsible for the fires should contact Cabot Police Station on 101, or the Crimestoppers charity, anonymously, on 0800 555111.