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Cycle community steps in with COVID-19 support

The Bicycle Association is continuing to stress the role that responsible, socially-distanced cycling can offer during the emergency

Juliana O'Rourke
24 March 2020


Bike share providers including Beryl, Brompton, Freebike UK and Transport for London are offering free or discounted bike share service for NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plus, cycle repair shops such as NipNip are offering free bike repairs and servicing for NHS staff, while many cyclists are joining pop-up volunteer bicycle food delivery services to help neighbourhood restaurants stay afloat, or are bicycle couriering items to the doorsteps of elderly people. “My partner is taking the calls. Have a think about doing something similar in your own area,” one cyclist tweeted.

“We're giving free 24-hour access to Santander Cycles for NHS workers, including all journeys under 30 minutes. Contact your NHS comms team for more information,” says Transport for London.

Meanwhile, British bike share provider Beryl and BCP Council (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) announced plans to make the bike share service in Bournemouth and Poole free for all NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health service workers will be able to access the scheme by signing up to the Beryl App with their NHS email address. This will automatically provide them free use for all bay to bay rides in the Bournemouth and Poole service area. 

Phil Ellis, CEO of Beryl, said: “As the COVID-19 crisis develops in the UK, we’re aware that many people won’t be able to stay home as they’ll be working to protect and aid the general public. We want to ensure these individuals can still be mobile and maintain safe distances from others while travelling to and from their places of work. As such, we’ve taken the decision to make Beryl Bikes temporarily free for NHS staff in our operating areas, to help them get around and to say thanks for the important work they’re doing.”

The Bicycle Association has been pressing the Government that bicycle repair shops must remain open as long as possible, to ensure that transport for essential workers and last mile deliveries is maintained. Last night the Government confirmed that bike shops can remain open.

The group commended and supports initiatives already put in place by many local bike shops to offer NHS staff in their communities free or discounted cycle repairs and services.

For NHS workers and other essential staff who do not have access to a car but need transport between home and workplace, cycling is a lower-risk, more convenient and more reliable alternative to using public transport. As more and more public transport services are reduced or cancelled, cycling’s role for journeys too long to walk becomes ever more important to maintain the resilience of the transport network.

Cycling is also valuable for anyone experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 to continue to make essential trips.

Industry leaders have observed high demand for ‘last mile’ deliveries by bike and cargo bike. Retailers are ready to help scale this up if required by fixing or adapting bikes for home deliveries of food or medicines for the self-isolating.

To continue to stress the role that responsible, socially-distanced cycling can play in maintaining health and well-being for those otherwise largely confined indoors.

The UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries, said at the Downing Street briefing of 20th March: “…keeping two metres apart, off for a bike ride together or something, that is absolutely fine. And in many ways, we would encourage that.”

The Bicycle Association said it will urge the Government to undertake the most careful possible consideration before implementing any additional control measures which might impact people’s access to responsible leisure cycling and the repair services which support it.


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