Free hire boom is boosting Yorkshire residents as Bike Libraries scheme snowballs

Couns Neil Buckley (left) and Dan Cohen at the Moor Allerton Bike Library. Picture by Simon Hulme.
Couns Neil Buckley (left) and Dan Cohen at the Moor Allerton Bike Library. Picture by Simon Hulme.
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Hundreds of bicycles stationed at more than 30 locations across Yorkshire are being offered for hire for free to give everyone access to two wheels.

The Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries scheme, set up by Welcome to Yorkshire, has seen a handful of volunteer-run hubs blossom into 31 sustainable bike libraries in less than a year.

Scheme bosses, intent on making the most of the legacy of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart, hope the tally will reach 40 by the end of 2016 with the ultimate aim of giving everyone in the county access to a bike.

Since the launch of Leeds’ first bike library at Fearnville Leisure Centre, the city has embraced the scheme which has so far created 13,000 opportunities for children to ride a bike.

Nick Hart, community hub manager at Leeds City Council, opened the Moor Allerton Bike Library in January at the multi-functional Moor Allerton Library where residents can also take out books, get housing advice and access an IT suite.

“Since the weather’s been better it’s really picked up a lot, word is spreading and it’s getting used really well,” he said. “We are trying to put something sustainable in place.”

The Moor Allerton Bike Library is home to 12 refurbished bikes and equipment like cycle helmets, which residents with a library card can hire for free for up to a week at a time.

The hub was set up with a £10,000 grant, which is also funding the launch of bike libraries at Middleton’s St George’s Centre, Beeston’s Dewsbury Road One Stop Centre and Compton Road Library in Harehills.

Nick now hopes to open more in Seacroft, Chapeltown and elsewhere. He said: “We are going to have six sites and I would like to grow that.”

Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries is a three-year funding project with the Cycle Yorkshire legacy scheme offering grants to communities looking to launch free hire services as well as donation stations for used bikes.

Liz Tattersley, Welcome to Yorkshire project manager, said: “Hopefully this will be like seed funding to give them the tools and be sustainable in future years. We are hoping to inspire the kids that might be the next Lizzie Armitstead.”

For information visit bikelibraries.yorkshire.com.

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