An Edinburgh bike shop has launched a new programme that will allow youngsters to access bicycles for free.
The Bike Station on Gorgie Road hopes its “Wee Bike Library” will encourage youngsters to reduce waste and help to make cycling more accessible for children in the capital.
It works by taking donations of used bikes – many of which arrive in various states of disrepair after sitting in a garage or a shed for long periods of time.
The Bike Station’s mechanics refurbish the bikes and get them in the hands of kids most likely to benefit from having a new set of wheels, with funding provided by Transport Scotland.
Stephen Cousins, communities manager at the store, told STV News: “We wanted to reduce the barriers for children coming into cycling. One of the barriers is cost and – with it being free – we can obviously remove that.
“We’ve got lots of experience through some of our other programmes. One of the programmes I manage is called shifting gears, and in that we work with people who are typically underrepresented in active travel.
“Over the last three years we’ve been able to give out circa 500 bikes.”
Another advantage to the scheme is that when children get bigger and need to move to a bigger bike, they can come in and trade in their old one for a more suitable model.
“It’s a really circular scheme, so we’re really interested in creating a sharing economy in bikes,” said Stephen.
When a family comes to collect a bicycle from the shop the child is also given a crash course on how to maintain their new bike, and if they experience any problems with it down the line, they can bring it back in to get help from a mechanic.
The Bike Station hope the programme will be a driving force towards changing the way people travel to address the climate emergency and reduce carbon emissions associated with transport.
Bruno Oliveira, project manager, at the Wee Bike Library said: “People can sign up and register for the scheme and reserve a bike for free.
“The scheme is available for children aged 16 or under, up until a bike size of 24 inch wheel.
“The best thing to do is to go on our website to sign up and to select the bike that you want – there’s a size guide there.
“Once you reserve the bike all you need to do is come and collect the bike, receive a free light, lock and helmet as well.
“And if for any reason you need your bike repaired in the meantime, that’s also covered under the programme.”