The Scottish Government has announced the first six pilot projects selected to offer free bicycles to school-age children who cannot afford one.
As part of a series of commitments made by the Scottish Government in the first 100 days after the election, the new pilot projects will be tested in the next 12 months and will be fully evaluated. Assistance models will be tested in urban and rural areas, in primary and secondary schools. The pilot projects seek to include local bicycle shops and explore opportunities to maximize benefits for the local market, including bicycle recycling and encouraging a circular economy approach.
The pilot projects will test various ownership, lending and subscription models and apply various needs assessment methods to ensure integration and accessibility. The pilot projects are linked to existing community networks in schools, charities, cycling clubs and active travel hubs.
Further pilot projects will be announced in the coming months. Transport Scotland continues to explore opportunities for both a program on the country’s islands. This will be based on the provision of existing projects that already offer special bicycles for children and young people with disabilities.
Announcing the pilot projects, Transport Secretary Graeme Dey visited the St Paul’s Youth Forum in Northeast Glasgow with Shanaze Reade, an ambassador for children and young people for the UCI 2023 World Cycling Championships.
In partnership with the Rosemount Development Trust, the Equality Cycles program will support five schools and up to 300 children aged 8-16, to encourage active commuting through the provision of free bicycles, including adaptive bicycles. This project aims to unleash skills, build confidence and deal with the emergency climate while improving physical and mental health.
The Scottish Minister for Transport said: “I am impressed by the way in which community groups and cycling enthusiasts have responded to our commitment. With the support and funding of the Scottish Government, I am pleased that they will soon be offering free bicycles to school children who would not otherwise be able to afford them.
“We still have a lot of ground to cover on how we can better assess needs, ensure accessibility for all and offer delivery and delivery models that are sustainable for urban, rural and island communities across Scotland. That said, when we look at the pilot projects that have already been mobilized, it is clear that the power of ambition is immediately apparent. We will look at the evaluation very carefully to see what works most effectively and inclusively to support future projects.
“The benefits of giving children more access to bicycles are obvious. Ensures equal opportunities in the development of life skills, self-confidence, independence and incorporates healthy and sustainable movement habits from a young age. Ensuring that more children can opt for active commuting, including cycling, is vital to achieving our world-leading zero-emission targets.
“The Equality Cycles project between the St Paul’s Youth Forum and the Rosemount Development Trust is a fantastic example of community collaboration to get more children on bicycles using local networks. “I look forward to seeing the success of this project and other pilot projects, as we will be giving more bikes to children who cannot afford them.”
Main photo: GlasgowTimes.co.uk
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