A Pop-Up Bicycle Library Opened to Get People Cycling

Opening bike riding up for more people to enjoy.


Community, Family
A mother teaching her child how to ride a bicycle.

(Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com)

Bicycle riding is something people of all ages enjoy doing. Whether it’s riding purely for fun, for exercise, or to get to and from work, cycling is for everyone.

Some people don’t cycle because purchasing a bicycle is an expense they cannot afford, or because they don’t know how to ride. That’s why a pop-up bicycle library was opened in an empty store in Towers Hamlets – a very deprived area in London – that lends bikes to children and adults at no charge according to KnewsUK.

The Chrisp Street Community Cycles is working with the pop-up library to provide free bicycle repairs, teach people how to ride, and give  guided rides to allow new cyclists to gain confidence.

The bicycle library opened in early September as part of a month-long pilot that is a partnership between Hubbub, an environmental nonprofit, Poplar Harca housing association and Sustrans , a walking and cycling nonprofit to help break down the barriers that prevent disadvantaged people from cycling in London.

“Cycling offers many benefits towards creating sustainable and thriving neighborhoods – from providing a low-cost way to travel, to reducing our carbon footprint and increasing our fitness levels,” Babu Bhattacherjee, director of communities and neighborhoods at Poplar Harka told KnewsUK.

“But a lack of access, storage and trust can all be barriers in getting people in Poplar to bike. This is why initiatives like this, which provide opportunities for local people to borrow and learn about bikes, are essential if we are to encourage more cycling in our communities.”

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The bicycle library was inspired, according to Positive News,  by other projects including Cycle Sisters, a nonprofit that helps give Moslem women the self-confidence to ride a bicycle. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an increase in cycling in London but that has not trickled down to deprived areas.

The London Streetspace program is transforming the way people navigate the city by adding a cycling network and creating low-traffic spaces. While the changes that began in 2020 were temporary, it is hoped that they will become permanent.

According to Positive News, the UK government wants half of the journeys people take to be done on foot or bicycle instead of driving. “Cycling not only helps tackle climate change but it improves air quality, health and wellbeing, tackles congestion and reduces noise pollution on our roads,” Trewin Restorick, CEO of Hubbub told Positive News.

“Every part of the community should have an opportunity to enjoy what cycling has to offer. We look forward to sharing the learnings of this pilot with other organizations keen to support community cycling schemes.”

Projects like the pop-up library will go a long way to equalize bicycle riding for disadvantaged people and this will benefit the city as a whole. Cleaner air and less carbon emissions are also added benefits of getting more people cycling. It’s a win/win for all.

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