Cycling is an increasingly popular alternative to driving in both urban and rural environments with more and more people ditching fossil fuels for pedal power. Helping this development is the ever-growing range of bike types and models available. As awareness grows of adaptive, cargo and electric bikes and these models become more common, cycling is an increasingly viable travel options for many people.
Adaptive bikes are designed to fit the needs of riders with disabilities or mobility issues and thus can vary significantly for the needs of each rider. More common examples of adaptive bikes include tricycles, recumbent bikes and wheelchair friendly bikes. A key part of ensuring cycling is as accessible and inclusive as possible.
Cargo bikes are designed for transporting goods and passengers with strong frames and additional features for carrying their loads. This type of bike can create real alternatives to cars or vans for parents during the school run or businesses making “last mile” deliveries. So far their adoption has been
The potential for cycling to help people across Scotland change their travel habits is only just beginning to be realised and been most prevalent is cities but they are seeing more and more use in rural environments (ARE they?)
Although not particularly new, ebikes, which feature small electric motors to assist pedalling, have given the cycling world a jolt in recent years and are opening up cycling to a wider range of users. Whilst ebikes don’t offer a free ride, their motors only switching on when cyclists are pedalling and going below 15 mph, the support they provide can help riders feel confident and energised. They can be charged using a household 3-pin socket with most batteries providing 40-60 miles range on a 4-hour charge depending on conditions and battery use.
The shift towards cycling is propelled by the multi-faceted benefits of being on a bike. Cycling produces no CO2 emissions, requires very little road and parking space, is inexpensive and brings substantial mental and physical health benefits; a win-win-win-win! The advent of wider use of adapted bikes, cargo bikes and ebikes further opens up cycling to a diverse pool or journeys and users.
So ebikes users still receive the exercise benefits of cycling but the assistance provided allows those lacking the confidence or fitness to cycle longer distances whilst feeling supported and assured. ebikes can also be effective in hilly and windy areas with long distances between settlements such as the Highlands and Islands by supplying a little extra support against the elements.
There are hundreds of inspirational community cycling projects across Scotland from some of our smallest islands to our largest cities. The case studies below give some examples of the positive impacts such projects can have on communities and individuals.
The Embark Project, run by Volunteering Hebrides, provides residents of Lewis and Harris with free trials and loans of ebikes, mountain bikes, road bikes and adapted bikes as well as coordinating volunteer led bike rides or introductory cycling sessions. The number of bikes used by the project has steadily grown as has the project’s impact on local residents. During the initial Covid-19 lockdown Embark modified their model to provide longer term bike loans rather than short trial sessions. The proved a hugely successful change and resulted in a number of loan recipients cycling more and buying their own bikes and ebikes.
Bike for Good is an urban cycling project which has grown from humble beginnings as a market stall to become a powerful force in promoting cycling across Glasgow. The charity makes a substantial social impact across the city by teaching people of all ages and abilities communities how to cycle safely in the city, teaching communities how to maintain bicycles and providing affordable second-hand bikes and repairs. Through there multi-faceted and inclusive approach, Bike for Good, have demonstrated the positive potential of cycling.
As Scotland’s national cycling organisation, Cycling Scotland, do a lot to get more Scots on bikes! They work across many fronts in diverse ways including political campaigning, running a national certification scheme for “Cycle Friendly” employers, schools, communities and campuses and providing various training courses for children and adults. They also administer lots of funding streams to support organisations across Scotland with cycling initiatives. They are a key player in advancing cycling across Scotland and can provide experiences and technically sound to community groups looking to engage locally.
Cycling UK share the aims and goals of Cycling Scotland but, as well as operating across the entire United Kingdom, work in a slightly different manner. A key element of Cycling UK is providing membership for individuals, households, cycling groups and employers. Member benefits include free third party insurance cover for on and off-road cycling, discounts for training and at cycling retailers, access to maps and a subscription to Cycling UK’s bi-monthly magazine. Funds raised through membership are put towards campaigns to make cycling safe and accessible across the UK, supporting community cycling clubs and new routes and resources across the country.
Sustrans make it easier for people to walk and cycle by improving public spaces and infrastructure and supporting communities in leading on active travel developments. They also carry out research and policy work to evidence the importance and benefits of active travel. As custodians of the National Cycle Network, Sustrans coordinate management of the network and promote its use. This involves ensuring that all routes meet quality standards which keep the network inclusive, safe and easy to navigate. Their role also includes collaborating with local authorities and communities to expand the network by developing new routes and helping communities to get the most out of their local routes through behaviour change initiatives. By taking a wholistic approach and supporting communities across the UK Sustrans are hugely important and impactful in support walking, wheeling and cycling.