People living or working in Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Meadowfield and Seaham can borrow a bike for free thanks to the extension of a Durham County Council scheme.
The “Borrow a Bike” scheme was launched in 2021 and offers people the opportunity to borrow a bike for three months, free of charge. It aims to encourage people to cycle to and from work, though the bikes can also be used for leisure purposes. It is already available to people who live or work in Shildon, Newton Hall, Framwellgate Moor, Brasside, Pity Me, Stanley, Murton and Newton Aycliffe.
And thanks to £57,000 funding from the council’s Climate Emergency Fund, it has been extended to more areas. There’s also a greater choice of bikes, including a limited number of e-bikes.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We’re delighted to be extending this offer to more of the county’s towns and villages and hope people take advantage of it.
“It gives people who don’t have access to a bike a chance to try it out and see if they enjoy cycling to work. And if you have a stressful job, the great news is exercise is a great stress reliever, plus it gives you more energy.
“If you currently drive to work then hopping on a bike will help us get cars off the road, which helps ease congestion and reduce carbon emissions.”
Daniel Keers borrowed a bike from the Stanley scheme to travel between Beamish Museum, where he works, and his home in Ouston three or four times a week.
“I enjoy the freedom of being able to jump on my bike and get where I need to be,” said the 35-year-old. “It’s quicker than walking and I prefer it to public transport.
“I’ve lost weight and am hitting my mini goals during my cycle to and from work. I feel my mental health has benefited too.
“I have a seven-year-old boy so seeing me riding in from work is giving him more confidence to ride his own bike.
“I would like to own a bike and maybe at some point do the coast to coast to raise money for charity.”
People signing up to the scheme can choose from a range of men’s and women’s bikes in various sizes. They will be given a start-up kit including bag, water bottle, maps, an information book and a waterproof seat cover. They will also receive a helmet, a bike lock, front and rear lights, hand pump, puncture repair kit, and one spare inner tube. Borrowers are required to register on the Love to Ride website to track bike miles, see carbon savings, set goals, and can also find help and support on the site.
Borrowers can also access training in basic bike maintenance, safety checks, handling, and on and off-road skills.
For further information, or to sign up for the scheme, visit www.durham.gov.uk/borrowabike.