It’s a return to ‘on your bike’ - Manchester jobseekers are being offered free recycled cycles to help them get back into work.
The Bike Back to Work scheme, a Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) initiative in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, allows jobseekers who have found new employment a free bike to help with travel costs.
It acknowledges that in the modern job market, many shift patterns are not supported by adequate public transport.
Eligible applicants will also receive free equipment, such as helmets and hi-vis vests, and access to free cycle training.
Cinema worker Christian Black, pictured above, recently accepted his only job offer in three months.
The 52-year-old often finishes work in the early hours, meaning his only mode of transport without a bicycle would be a taxi from Oldham to his home in Crumpsall.
Christian was furnished with a folding bike, which he takes on the Metrolink tram to work and rides back home once the tram service stops for the night.
Christian said: “The bike has made a really big difference. It meant I could accept a new job, and offers me the flexibility that I need when it comes to shift-working.
“I don’t think I would have been able to take the job without knowing I could get to my family care commitments after a late shift.”
Christian also received a free helmet, bike lock and lights.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “This is a really worthwhile scheme helping hundreds of people across Greater Manchester get to work.
“With low running costs, as well as the associated health benefits, cycling is a fantastic way for people to get around Greater Manchester, and helping people get to work by bike will benefit the local economy as well as the environment.”
TfGM can supply bicycles anywhere across Greater Manchester. Jobseekers can collect them from suppliers in Wigan, Trafford, Bury, Manchester, Oldham and Stockport.
People should apply for bikes directly via their Job Centre Plus or Work Programme adviser.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.