Tom Overton of The Bike Lock Cafe

Bike storage cafe offers safe haven from cycle thefts – plus ‘doorstep cheese on toast’

Coffee shop The Bike Lock also has charity and sustainability on the menu

A NEW café on Windsor Place offers customers the chance to safely lock up their bikes, shower and study, all while while supporting local charities.

Founder Tom Overton, who lectures at University of South Wales, came up with the idea for The Bike Lock 10 years ago, after having multiple bikes stolen in the city.

Mr Overton wants to do his bit for the environment by cycling instead of using fossil fuel transport but recognises that many people don’t feel safe bringing their bike into the city centre.

“I have commuted into Cardiff for many years now and have had five or six bikes stolen. Some of these times I have only popped into a café for a coffee for five minutes,” he said.

According to South Wales Police data, bike theft in the city centre in 2022 has risen in comparison to the same period of 2021. From January to September this year, 447 instances of bike thefts were reported in the city centre. In 2021 this figure was 263.

The available data for the period and location does not go back further than this to show the pre-Covid bike theft numbers for 2019

Mr Overton said: “It is about getting people moving again. After Covid there is more hybrid working so we are generally less fit as a society. We offer people who want to the chance to keep their bike safe while they work or shop.”

The café is one of the first in Wales to offer lockups for bikes, which can be paid for either on a subscription service or pay-as-you-go.

The Bike Lock has 54 bike racks. While there is no charge for just popping in for a coffee with your bike, people who want to take advantage of the café’s city centre location can hire a bike rack. Racks cost £3.50 for 2 hours, £5 for half a day or £8 for a full day.

For commuters there are weekly, monthly, and yearly subscriptions available. Concession rates are available for students who can enjoy a 10% discount on all services. There are also showers available for customers.

Mr Overton is also developing an app which will be available soon so customers can pre-book a bike rack.

The bike racks at The Bike Lock. Photo: Sam Feierabend

The cafe also has a heavy emphasis on sustainabilty and customers will make a difference to local businesses.

“We are buying into the ethos of being locally sourced,” said Mr Overton.

The food menu includes cakes, porridges, and light lunches including doorstop cheese on toast. The cakes are provided by a lady who bakes out of her own kitchen in Penarth.

The coffee beans are supplied by Manumit; a Cardiff-based charity which helps survivors of modern slavery. The charity employs people on a living wage to help rebuild their lives and ensure the coffee beans that they roast are from healthy farms. They are non-profit with all proceeds being invested into local and global anti-slavery initiatives.

A range of snacks available at The Bike Lock. Photo: Sam Feierabend

All the milk that The Bike Lock uses is provided by Daisy Bank Dairy, which is based in Newtown in mid-Wales. They deliver to the café twice a week and take away all used milk bottles to be refilled and brought back.

The furniture is all recycled, with the tables made from old scaffolding boards while all the chairs in the café have been bought off Facebook Marketplace. There is also the chance to buy T-shirts from the café that have been made in Cardiff.

The café holds an alcohol licence but does not promote itself as a bar. This allows groups to meet socially with their bikes or for rugby fans who cycle into the city on matchday to grab a pint.

In the future Mr Overton hopes to offer bike fixing lessons for punctures and other small repairs. There will also be the chance to service bikes on site while people are in work.

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