Bike schemes in Scotland are growing but gaps in access remain

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A nationwide study commissioned by Scotland’s cycling organisation has found a big rise in the range and number of bike schemes since 2018, but it also found there are still gaps in access to these.

The ‘Access to Bike Schemes in Scotland’ report, commissioned by Cycling Scotland and undertaken by sustainable transport expert Transform Consulting, identified more than 200 projects in Scotland that make it easier for people to access or own a bike. These include schemes providing bikes to: key workers, refugees, people with disabilities and those recovering from ill-health.

Kath Brough, head of behaviour change at Cycling Scotland, said: ‘This report shows that access to bikes has increased since 2018. It’s really positive to see such a broad range of organisations getting involved in supporting cycling for everyone, and its key role in improving health and combating climate change. And the depth and breadth of current schemes shows there’s demand for further increasing access to bikes.

‘But more action is needed at a national and local level to ensure cycling is accessible and affordable for everyone, helping us to create a fairer, healthier, and more environmentally sustainable Scotland.’

The report makes four recommendations; provide multi-year funding to give access-to-bike scheme organisations financial security and help long-term planning; increase access to bikes for adults who are self-employed, low paid or not working; set clear objectives for access-to-bike schemes, in line with the Scottish Government’s Active Travel Framework; and consider collecting national data on bike recycling and re-use in Scotland for the first time.

Satinder Panesar is a healthcare professional from Glasgow who contacted access-to-bike scheme Bike for Good in June last year. Under its Keyworker Bike Loan Scheme, she was able to borrow a bike to ride to work.

Satinder said: ‘I knew Bike for Good from when I had cycling confidence lessons, and they were amazing; I always felt uplifted. Learning how to ride a bike on the road gave me a sense of freedom and being able to use one during the pandemic has really helped my mental health.

‘My confidence has improved, my fitness has improved – I never thought I would be able to cycle the seven miles I do just now! I can’t thank Bike for Good enough for not only helping me learn a new skill but also helping me get to work and back home again during Covid.’

Cycling Scotland works in partnership with other organisations, and with funding from Transport Scotland, they help create an environment for everyone in Scotland to cycle easily and safely. Their vision is of a sustainable, inclusive and healthy Scotland where anyone, anywhere can enjoy all the benefits of cycling.