Access to a fleet of free-to-use refurbished bikes is being offered to workers of a logistics firm in Derby, in what is thought to be a UK-first, thanks to social mobility scheme Bike Back Derby.
The bikes, which have been refurbished to a “better than new” standard by inmates at a category C prison near Nottingham, are available to employees of Kuehne + Nagel Drinksflow Logistics to ride around the large Goodman-ownd Derby Commercial Park as to-and-from work.
Bike Back Derby, the initiative run by Bristol-based cycling charity Life Cycle UK, sold part of their fleet of refurbished bikes to industrial property developers Goodman Group to be used by employees on the site.
This is the first instance that the Bike Back Derby scheme have worked alongside a local employer to provied free cycling access, and as far as the project co-ordinator John Hughes is aware, it is the first example of such an arrangement in the country.
“I don’t know of any other charities in the country doing the same thing,” Mr Hughes said. “But we’re hoping to continue to provide cheap opportunities for local employers in Derby to give free access to bikes to their employees.”
The project with Kuehne + Nagel Drinksflow Logistics began when site owners Goodman Group approached the Derby-based scheme looking for an initiative that could enhance the health of employees working on their site.
Mr Hughes said: “We were approached by Goodman, who wanted to buy a range of bikes including men’s, women’s and hybrid bikes, so that employees could try cycling on-site and to and from work for free.
“All of the bikes we sold them were recycled frames, but with new shifters and drivetrains installed.”
The Bike Back Derby scheme was given the go-ahead at the end of 2012 after Derby City Council won a bid for £5 million worth of sustainable transport funding for the city, of which one of the strands was bike recycling.
The Derbyshire based project won a portion of that funding and began working in tandem with HMP Stocken to produce 300 refurbished bicycles for the community in their first year.
The scheme has since seen success around the area working with the Royal Derby Hospital and local schools, and is now looking to work with more local businesses, including one of the biggest employers in the city.
Mr Hughes was keen to highlight the social benefits of the scheme, and not just the improvements to inner-city congestion, but also the positive impact it has had on the lives of the prisoners at HMP Stocken who are working towards achieving their level 2 City and Guilds qualification as cycle mechanics.
“The prisoners really seem to enjoy the scheme, and the bikes come out better than new. I remember one of the inmates telling me that he could really see the point of it, which is rare for menial labour jobs in prisons,” Mr Hughes said.
“We’ve seen inmates come out with real, applicable skills too. One of the recent releases has even been hired as a bicycle mechanic at a national chain of stores.”
Bike Back Derby are always looking for donations of bikes, as well as volunteer help. Either visit the Life Cycle UK website or email //derby [at] lifecycleuk.org.uk">derby [at] lifecycleuk.org.uk to get involved.