A new scheme offers Londoners who normally take the 55 bus from Hackney to work in central London the chance to become cycling commuters instead.
Gustavo Montes de Oca, environment and enterprise manager at Hackney City Farm, had the brainwave when he spotted commuters queuing for the number 55 bus on Hackney Road over the road from the farm. He noticed that people would often have to wait while several full buses went past before finding one with any room.
So he set up an ingenious new scheme called Bike Start, which gives commuters everything they need to become regular cyclists. For the cost of their daily bus fare, commuters get a bike, a route planned out for them, and even a cycling buddy to help build their confidence.
After three months they return the bike and the money they’ve spent on hiring it is given back to them in the form of a bike shop voucher, which they can use to help buy a bike of their own.
The six bikes currently on offer were supplied by the London Cycling Campaign through Transport for London’s community cycling fund.
The scheme’s only just launched so it’s early days. It’s generated plenty of interest, but Gustavo is still waiting for his first signed-up customer. He said, “I’ve been on a recruitment drive that involves walking over to the bus stop and speaking to people who have just missed a bus. There’s always a lot of interest when I first speak to them but it seems to fizzle out a bit during the day.”
There's more information about the scheme on the Hackney City Farm site.