Scheme could be rolled out further afield

The cycling industry is lending bikes and making cycle training available to 800 people in Sheffield during the next two years to encourage them to commute by bicycle in an initiative that, if successful, could be implemented elsewhere in Yorkshire and further afield.

Called BikeBoost, the scheme is backed by the industry’s Bike Hub New Ideas Fund, Get Cycling and Sheffield City Council. Under the initiative, BikeBoost officers will evaluate the skill level and requirements of those signing up to it, leading to the potential loan of a bicycle and other equipment for commuting, according to the trade website, BikeBiz. In specific cases, where needed, participants could be lent power-assisted bikes or folding bicycles if their commute involves public transport, while special bikes will be made available for those who are disabled.

In order to benefit from the free bicycle loan, participants will have to sign up for a Cycle 50 per cent Challenge – meaning that they have to commit to commuting by bike on at least half of the days during the period of the challenge, which lasts between three and four weeks.

People taking part will also have the opportunity to benefit from two hours’ training offered by Pedal Ready, doubled if they live and work in Sheffield. Following the end of the trial period, participants will be directed to bike shops in the city where hey can buy bicycles at advantageous terms under the government-backed Cycle to Work scheme.

As an added incentive, the initiative is supported by a website that helps promote friendly competition between individuals or even departments within the same company or organisation.

Get Cycling’s managing director, Jim McGurn, told BikeBiz, “We chose Sheffield ahead of all other cities thanks to the strong commitment and support shown by the City Council, Sheffield’s voluntary cycling organisations and by Sheffield’s cycle training organisation, Pedal Ready”.

Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development and Transport, Councillor Ian Auckland, added: “We are committed to encouraging more people to choose the healthy option of cycling to work whenever possible. It not only helps with their personal fitness, but a healthy workforce means less sick leave and it’s great for the environment too! I hope that many businesses around the city will get behind this scheme and encourage their employees to get ‘on their bikes’.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.