A government minister has said that their will be a further delay to people in England being able to secure £50 Fix Your Bike vouchers, road.cc can reveal, blaming a backlog of repairs in bike maintenance workshops across the country which means they are unable to take on additional work.
The vouchers – 500,000 of them at a cost to the government of £25 million – were first announced in May at a Downing Street daily briefing by transport secretary Grant Shapps, who subsequently said they would be available by the end of June.
However, as we reported last month, while we now have a fairly clear idea of how the scheme will operate following guidance provided to bike shops and repairers by the Department for Transport, the scheme has not yet been launched to the public.
Yesterday, transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris, whose brief includes cycling, told shadow transport minister Kerry McCarthy that the application process would not be opened until the government was “confident” that there was sufficient capacity within the industry to cope with the expected demand.
McCarthy, the Labour MP for Bristol East, had asked in a written question, “How many bicycles have been repaired under the Government’s Voucher Repair Scheme to date?”
“None,” said Heaton-Harris.
He continued: “The Government’s Fix Your Bike Voucher Repair Scheme will be launched shortly.
“Due to the recent surge in cycling interest there is a lack of capacity to carry out additional repairs and we are ready to make vouchers available to the public when we are confident people will be able to get their bikes fixed without significant waiting times.”
Halfords, the country’s leading bike retailer, has a page on its website dedicated to the vouchers, with a link to register and “be one of the first to know when the scheme goes live.”
Strength of interest in the scheme is clear – when we checked that page this afternoon, there were more than 300 people viewing it – but for now, there is still no news of when they will be able to obtain those elusive vouchers.
And as we’ve pointed out before, with the continued delay coming at a time when lockdown measures are gradually being eased and car use, the opportunity to get the nation to change its travel habits by encouraging people onto bikes may already have been lost.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.