An estimated 1.3m bikes were bought during lockdown in the UK. One charity has a plan to keep people on them
Alongside Zoom and supermarket delivery services, one of the big beneficiaries of the UK lockdown has been the humble bike. It has emerged as one of the most effective ways of getting around urban areas while respecting social distancing.
The government has encouraged people to get on their bikes during lockdown by giving away thousands of cycle repair vouchers and earmarking £2bn to boost walking and cycling. Meanwhile, councils across the UK have accelerated the trend for driving cars out of cities in a bid to make cyclists feel safer.
Such measures appear to be working. According to the Department for Transport, the UK saw a 146 per cent increase in cycling during lockdown with a reported 1.3m bikes being sold in the same period.
But will novice cyclists stay on two wheels as the weather takes a turn and the nights draw in? If Cycling UK has anything to do with it they will: the charity has launched a cycle buddy scheme to help riders feel supported on the roads.
Volunteers taking part in the Pumped Up Crew initiative will ride around the UK’s towns and cities offering assistance to cyclists who need it. Identified by their purple, yellow and pink shirts, and ‘Pumped Up’ logos, the riders will offer cycle safety tips, assistance with bike maintenance, directions and moral support.
Vicky Palethorpe signed up to be a Pumped Up volunteer in Manchester, where £5m has been allocated to boost walking and cycling since lockdown.
“A lot of people might feel a bit nervous if they’re new to cycling so we’re here to help,” she said. “If you see us we can help with advice, fix a tyre, if it’s not too damaged, or just give you some socially distanced high fives.”
We can help with advice, fix a tyre or just give you some socially distanced high fives
Cycling UK is also expanding its pop-up Dr Bike clinics, which enable cyclists to get their bikes checked by an experienced mechanic at a subsidised rate.
“With a 146 per cent increase in cycling since March it’s never been more important to help new and returning cyclists feel welcome and supported on the road,” said Jenny Box, head of behaviour change and development at Cycling UK.
“Cycling is one of the best ways to move around particularly during lockdown and also great fun. Our volunteers want to help everyone get the most out of their bike.”
Cyclists interested in volunteering for the charity can register their interest here.
Image: Alessandra Caretto